Attendance Awareness: When are Students ‘Chronically Absent’?

HISD is joining school districts and communities around the nation this month to launch the first-ever Attendance Awareness Month. As part of the initiative, HISD is asking staff, parents, schools, city agencies, community nonprofits, businesses and others to deliver the message that attendance matters for success in school and in life, and that absences can easily add up to academic trouble.

At HISD, missing more than 10 percent or 17 days of school a year can lead to student being retained, but more importantly it represents lost time in the classroom and a lost opportunity to learn.

A child is considered chronically absent if they miss two or more days a month. That includes unexcused and excused absences.
Attendance matters as early as kindergarten. Studies show that children who miss too many days in kindergarten and first grade have trouble mastering reading.
By grade 6, chronic absence is a proven warning sign that a student is at risk for dropping out.
By grade 9, good attendance can predict graduations rates even better than 8th grade test scores.

[vimeo width=”600px” height=”330px”]

Schools at HISD do a variety of things to encourage regular attendance and arrival at school on time including free dress days, certificates, and contests. At the Halpin Early Childhood Center, attendance rates are up because of an innovative program the campus launched last year. Students who come to school every day during a given month are rewarded with an invitation to an “AttenDANCE” with their teachers and principal.

“Last year we consistently achieved attendance rates of 95 to 96 percent every month, which was up from the previous year’s average of 92.0 percent,” said (then) Principal Jessica Tejada, who is now the campus leader of Gallegos Elementary. “Students didn’t want to miss the opportunity to dance with me and their teachers. I had a parent once who didn’t even want to take their sick child home because he would lose the privilege of going to the AttenDANCE.”

How can you help? Download this banner in English or Spanish to hang at your school, library, or business.

Let us know what your school is doing during the month of September to raise awareness about the importance of attendance. Send us an email and photo to and tweet about it with the hashtag, #schooleveryday.