The Christmas Season is just around the corner! 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 District will be reflecting 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.

Good Morning Wildcat Nation!
The Christmas Season is just around the corner! 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 District will be reflecting 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.
Currently in the United States it is estimated that one in ten students are chronically absent from school which greatly increases the likelihood of falling behind or dropping out. For Neosho School District, this means that 40-45 of our current students will either 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 that has been completed by Johns Hopkins University estimates between 5 and 7.5 million students nationwide are missing too much school, and 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 constantly working 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 include:
· 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 working 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!

Have a GREAT week!

Dan Decker is the superintendent of the Neosho Schools. He writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.