Over the past few years, student attendance rates at Hutchinson High School have been declining. While these rates are still good when compared to the state average, we are working to stop this decline. What are the attendance goals of Hutchinson High School?

  • Promote a 95 percent (19 out of 20 school days) or better attendance rate from every student.
  • Communicate with parents/guardians about their child’s attendance in a positive and collaborative manner.
  • Work collaboratively with parents/guardians and students to promote student learning and better attendance if circumstances arise causing the student not to attend school.

Sometimes parents don’t realize how many days their children are missing school. A day here, a day there can really add up. One thing schools do to let parents know this is by sending letters home. These letters are not meant to pass judgement, they are meant to notify. They are also a means to start a conversation in order to collaborate to improve attendance.

Why is school attendance important?

According to the U.S Department of Education, “Students who are chronically absent — meaning they miss at least 15 days of school in a year — are at serious risk for falling behind in school.” This irregular attendance can also lead to dropping out of high school.

Students who miss school often find themselves in a situation where they have a hard time making up missed learning and work. They miss a few days of school, then go to school and realize that they are behind. They begin to struggle and worry about how they are going to get caught up. What doesn’t help is missing another day to avoid the problem. Sadly, this is often a reason that students give for missing additional days. We, parents and the school, need to help stop this cycle and encourage a pattern of regular attendance.

Another reason why attendance is important: It’s the law. Minnesota state statute requires that children attend school, and truancy is a violation of Minnesota state law. Every child between the ages of 7 and 17 must receive instruction unless he/she has graduated (Minnesota Statute 120A.22, subdivision 5). Hutchinson Public Schools works in partnership with McLeod County Truancy to encourage and support students and families who struggle with attendance.

At Hutchinson High School, we encourage attendance by striving to provide a safe learning environment, building positive relationships with students and providing activities to promote school connectedness. School connectedness is huge. When students feel connected, they want to be present so they can be a part of something.

We offer many activities, athletics and academic groups that students can be a part of. We encourage all students to find something that makes them feel connected and want to be present.

Hutchinson High School also encourages parents to ask for help if it is needed. If your child is struggling getting to school, let the school know so they can help. If you know your student has health issues and will be absent, work with the school nurse. If you want to find ways to get your child more involved in school and connected to an activity or group, talk with a school counselor or the activities office.

It takes the effort of parents, the school and the student working together to improve attendance and student success.

Jennifer Telecky is assistant principal of Hutchinson High School. You, Your Kids & School is a twice-a-month column from School District 423.

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