Want Your Kids to Graduate from High School? Make Sure They Show Up at School.

By Liany Elba Arroyo, Associate Director, Education and Children’s Policy Project, NCLR

Bell Multicultural Students

As the parent of a 19-month-old daughter, I often find myself thinking now about the things I can do to make sure she will excel in school, graduate high school on time, and enroll in college.  I spend the time I have with her during my commute between Washington, DC and Maryland practicing the alphabet, counting to ten, and singing songs.  I read to her and play games that boost her brain development and help her develop preliteracy skills.

Because of my education, I am giving her the best shot I can at guaranteeing her own educational achievement.  Yet I succeeded without experiencing many of these supports.  What made the difference?  One thing I vividly remember from my childhood is the emphasis that my mother and grandmother placed on getting me to school every day.  As it turns out, they were on to something.

Boost - 26 seconds infographicToday, the U.S. Army, the Ad Council, and the BoostUp campaign launched a nationwide Day of Action to spread awareness about the importance of school attendance.  BoostUp aims to highlight high school dropout prevention, provide insight into the types of challenges that at-risk students face by featuring real student stories, and connect people to actions they can take to support students in their communities.  According to research by Robert Balfanz, Associate Research Scientist at the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University, and Hedy Chang, Director at Attendance Works, one of the largest predictors of high school graduation is school attendance.

Consider these facts:

  • Missing just two days every month of the school year as early as middle school can significantly increase a child’s risk of dropping out.
  • Three out of four students who are chronically absent in 6th grade never graduate from high school.
  • Students who attend school regularly in their early years are more likely to read well by the critical third grade milestone, score higher on standardized tests, and graduate and go on to college than students who are chronically absent.
  • Education is crucial to breaking the cycle of poverty, but chronic absenteeism is most prevalent among low-income students.
  • The high school graduation rate for Latino students, while improving, was only 71.4% in 2010 compared to the national average of 78.2%.  Their White counterparts are graduating at a rate of 83%.

These statistics are sobering.  For Latino students, who are already at a disadvantage before they start school, chronic absenteeism can put them at even greater risk of not succeeding academically.

Parents may bear the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that their children get to school, but the reality is that many parents need support too.  Maybe they are working long hours to make ends meet and cannot always be there to make sure their children get on the bus.  Maybe the child feels unsafe at school.  Whatever the reason, as a community we must help parents who need it by serving as mentors, encouraging youth in our neighborhoods to stay in school, or simply donating to organizations that are doing these things in our communities.

NCLR is proud to support the BoostUp Day of Action.  We encourage you to participate and find out how you can bolster the success of Latino and other youth.

You might also be interested in:

This month’s Affiliate Spotlight is on Southwest Key, based in Austin, Texas. The former Affiliate of the Year joined NCLR for a Twitter chat to talk about what the group […]