September Newsletter: Back to School Means a Renewed Focus On Attendance


Every Day Counts

Every September we celebrate the beginning of the school year and Attendance Awareness Month because we know that in order for children to reap the benefits of instruction, they must be in school every day. During this same time, schools across the city work to finalize their enrollment numbers ahead of the annual Enrollment Audit in early October. Enrollment data helps to determine per pupil funding that schools receive (in DC for school year 2016-17, this amount is $9,682). During the 2015-16 school year, both DCPS and DC public charter schools reported increased enrollment numbers from the previous school year:  48,439 children attend DCPS schools while 38,905 attend DC public charter schools. This growth indicates that as the number of children in our city increases, so does participation in our public school system.

We recognize Attendance Awareness Month during September because we want to encourage regular school attendance from the very start of the school year. September is also an ideal time to start tracking attendance trends; school leaders can predict which students might struggle with attendance based on their absences during the first month. We hope that all 87,000+ students in our public school system commit to making school attendance a priority. Across the city, 1 in 5 public school students missed 10 or more days of school during the 2012-2013 school year. Chronic absenteeism puts students at risk academically; families, schools and the larger community must work together to support children in getting to school every day for the full day. 
We encourage you to read our issue brief on Attendance Counts from the Start released in 2014 about the different options for promoting regular school attendance.

2016 PARCC Results Released

At the end of August, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education released aggregate results for the 2016 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams indicating some student gains compared to last year’s test results. Our newest blog reviews these results and highlights the need for continued investments in early learning.