Good morning Wildcat Nation. The Christmas season is upon us. This is definitely one of my favorite times of the year, being in the “kid business,” I believe it is contagious.

Good morning Wildcat Nation. The Christmas season is upon us. This is definitely one of my favorite times of the year, being in the “kid business,” I believe it is contagious.
As I thought about what to share today, I landed on the topic of student attendance. As we finish the second quarter and first semester of the year, this is definitely an area the school district will reflect on over the next few weeks. While this may not seem like that big of a deal to some, it has some resounding effects on student success and achievement.
In the United States, it is estimated that 1 in 10 students are chronically absent from school, which greatly increases the likelihood of falling behind or dropping out. For Neosho R-5 School District, this means that 40 to 45 of our students will fall behind, not graduate with their cohort class or will drop out of school. Put in those terms, this becomes even more alarming as we work toward our district mission: “to inspire high academic achievement and maximize personal potential in all students.”
To be considered chronically absent, a student must miss 18 or more days of school throughout the year regardless of whether the absences are excused, unexcused or for disciplinary reasons. Research by Johns Hopkins University estimates that between 5 million and 7.5 million students nationwide are missing too much school.
The loss in instructional time has a direct correlation with poor academic achievement at all ages. If this pattern continues over multiple years, it proves detrimental and, most times, fatal for the student’s educational progress.
In early grades, students who are chronically absent from class miss crucial language instruction and are less likely to reach reading proficiency by the third grade. In Neosho, our administrators and teacher teams are working constantly to identify students who are at risk and determine patterns that may be useful in identifying these students early and often.
While absenteeism is an area the district needs to continue to focus on, it is imperative that parents are involved in the process, as well. Teachers and parents need to work hand in hand to find ways to address the issue in the best interest of the student.
Schools across the nation have developed and implemented various strategies in an effort to address this problem. Some examples:
• Rewarding good and improved attendance with awards and other incentives.
• Engaging the community by giving students, families and residents information about the importance of regular attendance and connecting students and their families with social services if needed to help with health care, etc.
• Use personalized, early outreach, talking to families as soon as the student is at risk.
• Create a team to monitor attendance and learn which students are chronically absent.
• Investigate any systemic barriers, such as transportation issues, etc., that may prevent students from attending school.
Finally, schools need to rely on data and insight from teachers to find out why students are missing school and work to put measures in place to address the issue. As we move ahead, we must, as a community, be committed to work together to address any and all issues related to student success. If students aren’t at school, they can’t receive the much-needed instruction they will rely on for success not only in school, but in life.
Thank you for all you do as a community for our schools and students. I look forward to working closely together as we tackle the large job of providing the best education possible for all of our students.
From all of us at Neosho School District, I would like to wish each of you a very Merry Christmas and an awesome New Year.

Dan Decker is superintendent of the Neosho R-5 School District. He writes a weekly column for the Daily News.