CMS starts campaign stressing attendance | NevadaAppeal.com

CMS starts campaign stressing attendance

Nevada Appeal staff report

Carson Middle School decided to start a campaign to reward and motivate their students for better school attendance.

In an effort to showcase the value of coming to school and being punctual, the administrators, social workers and safe school professionals dressed in dinosaur suits, holding banners and delivering cheers and high fives to students last Monday. They hope this provides positive motivation for students coming back to school, especially after breaks, and it gave them an opportunity to pass out flyers on important information and upcoming events at CMS.

National data from the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights found more than 6.5 million, or 13 percent of, students missed 15 or more days of school during an academic school year. That total equates to nearly a month missed of school.

"Many parents or guardians of students in our community are often unaware of the Nevada laws that require children to be in school," said Alice Valdez, truancy and dropout prevention specialist for Carson City School District. "Nationwide, more than 30 percent of students are chronically absent."

School officials said too many missed days, whether absences are excused or not, can leave children falling behind in reading and math. Research studies also show starting in kindergarten, students who are chronically absent, defined as missing 10 percent of school or more, are less likely to read by the third grade, according to the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. These studies also show chronic absence is an early warning sign of failing courses in middle school, leading to a greater chance of dropping out in high school.

These absences also challenge low-income students most whose academic achievement is affected the most by missed classroom time.

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"I've made it part of my job to help educate families about the importance of avoiding unnecessary absences and help families overcome challenges in getting to school," Valdez said. "I often find underlying issues to chronic absenteeism such as lack of health care, unstable housing, drug abuse and many other issues which I find resources to help in these areas. Carson City School District is proactively dealing with the situation with home visits and intervention. The biggest thing is helping families to understand and address the barriers that keep children from getting the education they deserve."

Officials also attribute increased absences with juvenile crime.

"When our students are at their desks in school, our community is safest," said Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong.

So CMS is doing what it can to help prevent that, even if it's just providing students with a fun welcome back to school after the holiday break. School officials said parents and students alike enjoyed seeing the dinosaurs and banners and they are planning on doing it again on Tuesday, following the three-day weekend for Martin Luther King Day.

For more information about attendance and truancy requirements, please contact the principal's office at the child's individual school.