Huntsville City Schools pushing the importance of attendance

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -  Starting at a young age, students are told to go to school. From elementary through high school and on to college, attendance is something that affects all students. Huntsville City Schools is pushing to make sure both students and parents understand its importance.

"As they go through school and reach that college level, they've developed a pattern of success coming to school and it means a lot," said Cary Grant, director of student welfare and social services for Huntsville City Schools. "It means my grades are up, it means I'm productive, so it has a lot of benefits."

As students get older, attendance can impact them even more. Research shows if a 9th-grade student misses one day of school a semester they have an 87 percent chance of graduating. If they miss five days, a 63 percent chance and if they miss 10 days their chance of graduating is already down to 41 percent and that doesn't even include the student's grades.

Grant told WHNT that chronic absenteeism has always been on their radar, but this year they're hoping to address it at one or two absences before it becomes a serious concern.

They also have an early warning program where if a student is missing too many days, they'll go over the attendance law with parents to remind them it is required that their child goes to school.

"We're here to support," Grant said. "We're not here to get any parents in trouble, we want to see your child be successful."

Grant hopes from this attendance push, they'll see less empty seats in the classroom leading to higher grades on report cards.

Part of Grant's research shows the difference between truancy versus chronic absences, but he says we need to look at how all absences, excused and unexcused, affect a student's education.