Benefits of Strong School Attendance

Benefits of Strong School Attendance
Posted on 11/01/2023

We know that regular school attendance is a key to student success. Every day in the classroom provides rich learning experiences and opportunities for students to ask questions, observe, and get help from teachers. This year, Tahoma School District and all Washington public schools continue to make a special effort to ensure that students fully benefit from their education by reducing absences. Attending school regularly helps children perform better and provides them with an important Future Ready Skill that will translate well as they move on to higher education and careers. We want to provide more information about that effort and how our partnership with you will help ensure that this school year is fulfilling for your student and family.

Prior to the pandemic, Washington students had the second-highest absentee rate in the nation. As a result, attendance requirements by the state were strengthened in an effort to help families whose children experience frequent or chronic absenteeism. In Tahoma, we want to work with our families to ensure that each student is getting the most from their school experience.


  • Starting in kindergarten, too many absences (excused and unexcused) can cause children to fall behind in school.
  • Missing 10 percent (or about 18 days) increases the chance that your student will not read or master math at the same level as their peers.
  • Students can still fall behind if they miss just a day or two days every few weeks.
  • Being late to school may lead to poor attendance.
  • Absences can affect the whole classroom if the teacher has to slow down learning to help children catch up.
  • By 6th grade, absenteeism is one of three signs that a student may drop out of high school.
  • By being present at school, your child learns valuable social skills and has the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with other students and school staff.
  • Absences can be a sign that a student is losing interest in school, struggling with school work, dealing with a social issue, or facing some other potentially serious difficulty.
  • By 9th grade, regular attendance is a better predictor of graduation rates than 8th grade test scores.
  • Regular attendance is a Future Ready Skill that translates to post-high school education and careers.


We value your student's contributions to their school and we miss them when they are not present. We would like you to help ensure that your student attends regularly. We understand that there will be times when your student will miss school for very good reasons, such as illness. If your student is going to be absent, please contact the attendance office at your child's school to let us know about the absence.


We promise to notice when your student is missing from class, track attendance daily, communicate with you to understand why they were absent, and identify barriers and supports available to overcome challenges you may face in helping your student attend school.

Our goal is for all our students to have good attendance (missing 8 or less days of school per year) and that none of our students have chronic absence (missing more than 18 days per year).

We appreciate that there are extenuating circumstances for families that may impact attendance. We are committed to working together with families to deal with those challenges.


In an effort to support reduction of chronic absenteeism in Washington state, our legislature changed parts of the law that govern expectations for school districts. State law for compulsory attendance, called the Becca Bill, requires children from age 8 to 17 to attend a public school, private school, or a district-approved home-school program. Children ages 6- or 7-years-old, are not required to be enrolled in school. However, if parents enroll their 6- or 7-year-old, the student must attend full-time.

If your student has three unexcused absences in one month, state law (RCW 28A.225.020) requires we schedule a conference with you and your student to identify the barriers and explore supports available to ensure regular attendance. School staff will work with parents to develop a plan that may require an assessment to determine how to best meet the needs of your student and reduce absenteeism.

In elementary school after five excused absences in any month, or ten or more excused absences in the school year, the school district is required to contact you to schedule a conference or workshop to identify the barriers and supports available to you and your student. A conference is not required if your student has provided a doctor's note or pre­-arranged the absence in writing, and the parent, student and school have made plans so your student does not fall behind academically. If your student has an Individualized Education Plan or a 504 Plan, the team that created the plan needs to reconvene. Pre-arranged absence forms are available in the office at each school and on our district website.

If your student has seven unexcused absences in any month or fifteen unexcused absences within the school year, we are required to file a petition with the juvenile court, alleging a violation of RCW 28A.225.010, the compulsory attendance laws. The petition may be automatically stayed and your student and family may be referred to the Tahoma Community Truancy Board, or you and your student may need to appear in juvenile court. If your student continues to be truant you may need to go to court.


  • Set a regular bedtime and morning routine for your student.
  • Prepare for school the night before, finishing homework and getting a good night's sleep.
  • Avoid appointments and extended trips when school is in session.
  • Develop backup plans for getting to school if something comes up. Call on a family member or another parent.
  • Track your student's attendance. Missing more than nine days could put your student at risk of falling behind.
  • Talk to your student about the importance of attendance.
  • Talk to your students' teachers if you notice sudden changes in behavior. These could be tied to something going on at school and signal that the student needs help.
  • Encourage meaningful after-school activities, including sports and clubs.

We appreciate the partnership we have with parents and know that the success of all our students is a shared value. We will continue to provide updates to parents/guardians with specific information if your student reaches any of the absence thresholds, as specified by state law and our Tahoma policies. Please contact your building principal, assistant principal, or dean of students if you have concerns about your child and their attendance.

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