Barriers to Regular Attendance

(March 10, 2018)  – Since the start of Strive for Five, the goal of missing fewer than 5 days has been about resetting community norms about absenteeism. Attendance data from Missouri affirmed the need for a change. Last year, student attendance in St. Joseph ranked in the bottom 4% of all districts with attendance of 80% or more (see below).





The primary goal of Strive for Five is to better prepare students to compete in the world, wherever their high school diploma and dreams ultimately take them. The 21st century is highly competitive and rapidly changing, but thanks to the support of parents, staff, community and business partners, our students will be better equipped to make their way upon graduation.

We are pleased by improved attendance during the first year of this community initiative. As reported on March 1, the St. Joseph School District has seen a 3.91% improvement in proportional attendance compared to the same time last year. This is especially notable given the reach of the influenza outbreak during January and February. We are thankful that students and staff are feeling better and have returned to their classrooms this month.

Strive for Five has not changed our commitment to student health. 

Student health and wellness remain a primary concern of our district. Our staff closely monitors absenteeism data to better understand the cause of student absences and to help overcome known barriers to regular attendance. Absence code data from the first semester of 2016 and the first semester of 2017 is provided below for review. The chart lists how many hours of learning a student missed due to the specific reasons provided by their parent or guardian.

S1 (2016)
S1 (2017)
Absence Reason
Hours Missed
Hours Missed
Total Change
Absent
79,709.95
59,717.38
-19,992.57
Bereavement
4,615.80
3,760.70
-855.10
College Visit
403.1
809.05
405.95
Head Lice
1,212.18
931.23
-280.95
Health
108,199.10
93,670.83
-14,528.27
Homebound
412.88
658.87
245.99
ISS
22.83
45.28
22.45
Legal
594.5
578.3
-16.2
Medical
38,765.10
40,532.73
1,767.63
Office/clinic/counseling
1.32
2
0.68
OSS partial
9,518.62
6,350.63
-3,167.99
Parent Choice
38,240.57
32,064.73
-6,175.84
Personal family business/emergency
9,872.57
10,014.88
142.31
Religious/cultural leave
180.55
307.55
127
Student Choice
7,577.93
7,351.43
-226.50
Transportation
1,944.25
1,563.07
-381.18
Truant
567.1
1,332.18
765.08
Unverified
23,471.20
19,819.05
-3,652.15
Vacation
6,385.43
5,712.87
-672.56
Weather
234.18
2.7
-231.48
Grand Total
331,929.17
285,225.48
-46,703.69


Overall, there was a 14% decrease in instructional time missed from 2016 to 2017 with 46,703 fewer hours of instruction missed. Analysis suggests that students continued to receive treatment for medical appointments while unverified absences, parent choice, health, and general absences declined. There was also a notable increase of college visits from high school students in 2017. These trends are encouraging and support improved opportunities for students in St. Joseph and our community.