Earlier start dates mean empty seats in some Michigan schools
Some Michigan school districts that have opted to begin the school year before Labor Day are finding it difficult to get everyone to class on the first day, MLive reports.
For example, more than a third of the students who were supposed to be in attendance on Aug. 7 in the Ypsilanti Community Schools, near Ann Arbor, missed the first day.
The schools where attendance was lowest are among those implementing a “balanced calendar,” meaning they have an earlier start date and longer breaks throughout the year in an effort to prevent summer learning loss.
Even missing a few days of school can negatively affect students’ progress in school. Attention to the importance of regular attendance has grown in recent years with research showing that chronic absenteeism can lead to poor reading proficiency in third grade and can even be a “leading indicator” of whether a student will drop out. In addition, an analysis of student attendance in Baltimore showed that students who miss days at the beginning of the year continued to miss days throughout the school year.
Some school districts have made the first day of school a community-wide event in order to better communicate the importance of attendance to families. Others work with partner organizations to distribute enrollment or back-to-school information throughout stores, libraries or other locations frequented by families. In Memphis, for example, church leaders are encouraging men to show up at local schools to encourage students to attend and make school a priority.
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