We want all of our students to succeed in the classroom and beyond. But you can’t succeed if you don’t show up! Attendance is one of the best predictors of student success. But unfortunately, across our nation, state, and District, too many students are struggling to succeed because of chronic absenteeism.
The chronic absenteeism rate is approximately 50% amongst our state-run schools, 29% in Metro-Nashville and Fayette, 27% in Tipton County Schools, 28% in Knox County, and approximately 26% in MSCS District-managed and charter-managed schools.
We understand that if our students aren’t in class, they can’t pass. They can’t grow intellectually, academically, socially, or emotionally. Miss school, miss out!
How do I alert my child’s school of an absence?Send a note to school! For your convenience, download an excuse form you can print, fill out, and provide to your school.
Chronic absenteeism includes all absences, excused and unexcused. A Tennessee student is chronically absent if they miss 10% or more of instructional days (typically 18 days absent).
Truancy includes unexcused absences only. A Tennessee student is truant if they accrue five unexcused absences.
LAW & CONSEQUENCES:
According to Tennessee Code Annotated 49-6-3001, all Tennessee children ages 6 through 17 are required to attend school. This section of code requires districts to enforce compulsory attendance laws using various methods, up to and including referral to juvenile court. Juvenile court judges also may penalize parents based on their child’s truancy.
THE GOAL: REDUCE CHRONIC ABSENTEEISM AND TRUANCY
Our most important partnership is the one we, as a K-12 school district, share with our students and families. Over the 2022-23 school year, we have spent a great deal of time looking at how we address matters of attendance and truancy. We have taken steps to be more intentional in our work, and we have implemented methods to provide additional supports to families who are experiencing issues that impact their child’s attendance. Please review our updates and see how you can support this effort.
WHAT MSCS IS DOING
WHAT WE NEED FAMILIES TO DO
CONNECTING FAMILIES WITH RESOURCES
We’re using technology more efficiently to connect parents with resources. Now when parents receive a message about their child missing school, they also receive a link to a state database with services in their community such as food pantries and healthcare clinics. To connect with other outreach programs, parents can also call MSCS directly at 901-416-6007.
REINFORCE THE MESSAGE
From an early age, explain to your child how important it is to attend school regularly. A missed school day is a lost opportunity for learninfg. Students who attend school regularly have been shown to achieve at higher levels than students who do not have regular attendance.
Our Attendance and Truancy Task Force is chaired by School Board Member Stephanie Love and includes representatives from governmental agencies and community partners. In our conversations on attendance, we are dismantling the barriers that block needed social supports.
UPDATE YOUR CONTACT INFO
Parents now receive an automated alert via text and robocall when their child has three or more unexcused absences. Make sure you receive important communications from MSCS by keeping your contact info updated in PowerSchool.
District staff recently completed a round of bus tours in areas with low attendance. The purpose was to meet families where they are, share information, and provide resources to improve attendance.
SEND A NOTE
Keep your child’s school informed of any absences. If your child is going to be absent, be sure to send a written excuse to the school office, so the absence can be coded accurately in the system and possibly be excused.
We are partnering with the Juvenile Court to develop a dedicated docket for attendance when our supports fail. We also are partnering with the District Attorney’s office, so when interventions fail, there are legal consequences for nonattendance.
REACH OUT IF YOU NEED HELP
If your family is impacted by barriers keeping your child from regularly attending school, we are here to help. Visit bit.ly/TN_211 for a database of services, contact your child’s school, or call MSCS directly at 901-416-6007.
We have reallocated resources for attendance specialists to directly support schools with the lowest attendance rates.