The Wyandanch Union Free School District takes school attendance very seriously. Because daily school attendance is so crucial in student achievement, and in response to increased accountability measures under The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the District is focusing on improving student attendance at all grade levels. The purpose of ESSA, the nation’s guiding education law for all public schools, is to provide all children the opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education. A critical focus area of ESSA is improving attendance.
Poor attendance, also referred to as chronic absenteeism, negatively affects a student’s academic performance. Research shows that students who consistently miss school are at risk of lower academic achievement, failure and even dropping out of school.Students benefit in many ways from being in school: in their academic growth, in their social-emotional growth, and in the supportive relationships they build with their peers, teachers, and other staff members.
Attendance matters in a student's success starting as early as kindergarten. Missing even two days every month -- chronic absence -- causes students to fall behind. By sixth grade, chronic absence is a leading predictor that a student will drop out of high school. By ninth grade, regular attendance is a better predictor of graduation rates than eighth-grade test scores.
Here are some facts:
- Absences can be a sign that a student is losing interest in school, struggling with schoolwork, experiencing bullying behaviors, or facing some other potentially serious difficulty.
- Missing just a few days of school each month can have an impact on academic achievement, including reading and math skill deficits.
- By 9th grade, student attendance is a better predictor of graduation than 8th-grade test scores.
Late or absent: the rules
The district follows state law, which requires a parent or guardian to give the school a written excuse for every absence or late arrival. The excuse must be signed and dated by a child’s parent or legal guardian, and include the dates and reasons for the absence or lateness.
A child’s absence or late arrival is excused in the following circumstances:
- Student illness or family illness or death
- Unsafe travel conditions
- Religious observances
- Medical appointments
- Required court appearances
- Participation in a school-sponsored activity
- Approved college visits
- Approved work programs
- Academic enrichment
Absences and late arrivals are tracked every day in every school. Each school has a committee responsible for monitoring overall attendance; that committee also is responsible for identifying specific students who frequently miss or are late to school.
To support the importance of school attendance, families will now receive a letter from their child’s school once he or she accumulates five absences. Please note: under ESSA, the District will not distinguish between unexcused and excused absences for this purpose. For example, doctor’s appointments are referred to as excused absences, but they are no longer treated differently. Board of Education or school-approved events do not count toward the five-day mark. Notes for all absences must still be provided. Absences beyond five days may result in additional support for the student.
Make plans now to ensure your child is at school each day:
- Build regular routines for bedtime and pack backpacks the night before.
- Talk about the importance of regular attendance and about how your child feels about school.
- Don’t permit missing school unless your child is truly sick.
- If your child seems anxious about going to school, talk to school staff for advice on how to make him or her feel comfortable and excited about learning.
- Avoid medical appointments and vacations when school is in session.
Missing school hurts kids
The future is bleaker for students who miss too much school. And frequent absences without a valid reason are known as truancy.
Truancy is an early warning sign for a student headed toward school failure and dropping out. Truant students also are at greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, and delinquency.
In Wyandanch, truant behavior includes:
- Being absent because of sickness for more than five days without a note from the doctor
- Missing classes without a valid excuse
- Missing whole days of school without a valid excuse
- Frequently being late for school
Helping your child with attendance
Parents can help their kids make the right choices about school. Here’s how.
- Keep open the lines of communication between you and your child’s principal or teacher. For middle and high school students, keep in touch with your child’s guidance counselor.
- Be sure your child is at school on time every day. Set a routine for getting homework done.
- Limit late-night activities. Have a regular, reasonable bedtime and stick to it on weeknights.
- Don’t allow other activities to take priority over school and school work.
- Make sure your child knows that every day in school counts. Make education a priority by emphasizing that doing well in school and graduating gives them a better chance of getting what they want in life.
- Increase your child’s involvement in school by having him or her participate in after-school clubs, sports, or both. To find out what’s available, call your child’s school.
The Wyandanch Union Free School District is committed to working with families and community partners to remove barriers to good attendance.
- Lafrancis Hardiman/Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary - Ms. Laure Jackson (631) 870-0565
- Milton L. Olive Middle School - Ms. Zondra Outlaw (631) 870-0535
- Wyandanch Memorial High School - Ms.Lee.Perez (631) 870-0466
Common Reasons Students Miss School
There may be school resources that can help you manage attendance. View the topic below to find out more.
Does your student miss school because of health issues?
- The school social worker, guidance counselor, or nurse can help; ask them.
- The Suffolk County Dept of Health site has a list of health programs and benefits, immunizations, and school-based health centers that provide free medical care to all students.
- Speak to your school nurse to allow the school to administer medication if your student needs it.
- A 504 accommodation can help a student stay in school.
- There are mental health services for students with emotional or behavior issues. Visit the Pupil Personnel Services Page
- There is Home or Hospital Instruction for students who cannot attend school because of a medical or physical condition or emotional or psychological disability. A physician’s note must accompany the request.
Does your student want to miss school because of school work?
- Meet with the teacher or counselor and ask about the student's classwork. Ask about tutoring programs or, possibly, evaluations for special services..
- Families of high school students can check the graduation requirements under Support Operations so they know exactly where the student is on the way to graduation.
- Families show school is important with simple habits like talking about school every day. Set and keep regular meals and bed times. Have books in the house or visit the library. Celebrate when your student does well.
Does your student want to miss school and you are not sure why?
- Talk about what is happening in school. If there is bullying, or online bullying talk with the guidance counselor or other staff. Learn about the Respect for All program and what families can do to help.
- Visit the school and ask for help on how to manage your student's social media use.
- Find out more about health and mental health issues
- Visit AttendanceWorks for more resources