Encouraging School Attendance in Secondary School

School attendance is a strong predictor of who passes their course work and who graduates on time.

Parents have a huge influence on students when it comes to attendance.  Attending school regularly helps students feel better about school—and themselves. It is important for you to reinforce the idea that going to school on time, every day is important. 

The attendance video below is available in the following languages: English and Spanish.

Absences Add Up in Middle and High School.   Missing 18 days in a school year or 2 days every month equals lower test scores and retention in later grades.
AttendanceWorks, a national and state initiative, promotes better policy and practice around school attendance.

Did you know?

  • Regular attendance in 8th grade is a better predictor of on-time graduation than 8th grade test scores.
  • Chronic absenteeism is among the strongest predictors of students dropping out of high school.
  • Freshman who miss 10 or more days per semester are at increased risk of failing at least 2 classes during their freshman year.

Missing Classes Puts Graduation at Risk

The Consortium on Chicago School Research provided a report entitled "Freshman Year: The Make-it or Break-it Year" with information on how student behavior during their freshman year in high school impacts graduation. According to the report, nearly 90% of freshmen who miss less than a week of school per semester graduate on time. As can be seen on the chart below, the graduation rate declines steadily as students miss longer periods of school each semester.

Bar Chart titled “Missing Classes Puts Graduation at Risk.” Chart shows the graduation rate declines steadily as students miss longer periods of school each semester.
Bar Graph - Missing Classes Puts Graduation at Risk

How to Encourage School Attendance in Secondary School

  • Help your child maintain daily routines, such as finishing homework and getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Try not to schedule dental and medical appointments during the school day.
  • Talk to your child about why going to school every day is important unless they are sick.
  • Don’t let your child stay home unless she is truly sick.
  • Help your teen stay engaged by asking questions about what he is learning in school, using ParentVUE to check progress on assignments, and seeking help from teachers or tutors if necessary. Make sure teachers know how to contact you.
  • Get to know your child’s friends and listen when she talks about someone new, or stops talking about an old friend. Peer pressure can lead to skipping school, while students without many friends can feel isolated.
  • Encourage meaningful after-school activities, including sports and clubs. 
  • Know the school’s attendance policy
  • Check on your student’s attendance to be sure absences are not piling up.  
  • If your child seems reluctant to go to school, find out why and talk to teachers, school counselors, or other parents for advice on how to make her feel comfortable and excited about learning. Keep in mind complaints of a stomach ache or headache can be a sign of anxiety and not a reason to stay home.
  • Reach out to your child’s school counselor or social worker if you are experiencing tough times such as unstable housing, transportation or health problems.  


Following an extended absence, support is available for students as they integrate back into classes and the social environment of school.
View information on Return to Learn Support


Homebound instruction provides continuity between the classroom and home or healthcare facility for those students whose medical needs do not allow for school attendance.
Learn more about Homebound Instruction