Why Attendance Matters
Students who attend school regularly have been shown to achieve at higher levels than students who do not have regular attendance. Children who do not regularly attend school lose fundamental reading and math skills and the chance to build good attendance habits that will carry them through college and careers. Research has shown that students who were chronically absent beginning in kindergarten and as early as pre kindergarten were far less likely to read proficiently by the end of third grade. Read more from the U.S. Department of Education. Read more from the U.S. Department of Education.
Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10 percent or more of the academic year for any reason, including excused absences, unexcused absences, and suspensions. Students who are chronically absent have a higher risk for lower test scores, dropping out of school, and being retained in later grades. Read more from the Virginia Department of Education and AttendanceWorks.
What LCPS is Doing about Attendance
LCPS is very focused on improving student attendance. To help support improving school attendance, the Loudoun County School Board recently approved revisions to the policy that governs school attendance. This policy outlines what types of absences are categorized as excused or unexcused absences. The policy also provides guidance on make-up work following an absence as well as specific actions school administrators should take if a student demonstrates a pattern of absenteeism. The full policy – Policy 8140, Student Attendance Requirements and Procedures – is posted on BoardDocs. Some changes to this policy include:
Absences due to family trips or vacations are considered unexcused absences unless they are due to family emergencies or observations of religious holidays. Parents/guardians are advised to schedule such trips during school holidays.
The principal or the principal’s designee is no longer required to determine whether a student’s absence is excused or unexcused. That determination is outlined by the policy.
Excused absences due to personal illness have been expanded to include mental health issues or substance abuse-related illnesses. Principals may require medical documentation to support these absences.
This policy also provides guidance on make-up work following an absence as well as specific actions school administrators should take if a student demonstrates a pattern of absenteeism.
This policy revision was adopted on Oct. 24, 2023, and applies to all LCPS students. If you have questions about this policy, please speak with your school’s principals or contact the Department of Student Services.
Did You Know?
Showing up on time every day is important to your child’s success and learning from preschool forward. Missing 10% of school (1 or 2 days every few weeks) can make it harder to:
- Gain early reading and math skills.
- Build relationships.
- Develop good attendance habits. High quality preschool and kindergarten has many benefits!
- The routines your child develops will continue throughout school
- Make the most of early grades by encouraging your child to attend every day.
Middle and High School:
Students should miss no more than 9 days of school each year to stay engaged, successful and on track to graduation.
- Frequent absences can be a sign that a student is losing interest in school, struggling with school work, dealing with a bully or facing some other difficulty.
- By 6th grade, absenteeism is one of three signs that a student may drop out of high school.
- By 9th grade, attendance is a better predictor of graduation rates than 8th grade test scores.
- Missing 10%, or 2 days a month, over the course of the school year, can affect a student's academic success
What Can Parents Do?
Parents of Elementary School Students
Online Mental Health Resources
The LCPS and its community partners provide access to many services to support student mental health. If your student’s attendance is affected by their mental health or well-being, your school’s United Mental Health Team can provide support.
Engage Virginia Program
VDOE Office of Attendance and School Engagement
LCPS Policy 8140 Attendance Requirements and Procedures Student Mental Health Services
Loudoun County Youth Family Resource Center Loudoun County Family Services
Loudoun County Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
LCPS Mckinney Vento Information