By Wes Feese
Media Relations, Adair County Schools
September is School Attendance Awareness Month nationwide, and in that spirit the Adair County School District is embracing the opportunity to educate students, parents, and the community about the importance of strong attendance. According to Director of Pupil Personnel Robbie Harmon, missed days put students at an incredible disadvantage academically, creating an achievement gap that can be incredibly difficult to close.
“The data shows that missing 10-percent of the school days, or just two or three days a week, translates into lower reading mastery,” Harmon explains. “Last year we had more than 50 kids with 30-plus absences. As hard as our teachers work, we can never recoup those days of lost education. I can’t overstate how important attendance is.”
While absences are clearly an issue that the district has wrestled with for years, Harmon believes there is hope to solve the problem. “This is something we can fix if schools, parents, and students work together on it,” he says. “That’s why we have all these things going on this month. Sept. 20 is High Attendance Day in our schools and some of our schools are having other attendance-based competitions.”
There are other motivating factors that should keep students in school as well. Students with more than seven unexcused absences are subject to truancy charges, and must answer to the County Attorney, District Judge, and a truancy worker about their attendance.
“We never want to end up in court, but our main objective is to get students in school where they can reach their full potential,” Harmon says. “Our goal this year is a 95-percent, and that came from [District] Judge Mike Loy. He said, ‘Let’s strive for 95.’” Last year, Adair County students’ attendance rate was 94.7-percent.
To formally recognize September as School Attendance Awareness Month in Columbia and Adair County, Mayor Curtis Hardwick and Judge-Executive Mike Stephens will sign a joint proclamation Tuesday, Sept. 6 in the Courthouse Annex basement at 9 a.m. The public is invited to attend.