Haverhill Promise’s ‘Showing Up Together!’ Campaign Stresses Importance of School Attendance

Haverhill Promise Director Jessica Kallin. (Courtesy photograph.)

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Haverhill Promise this month joined an effort to celebrate the 11th annual national Attendance Awareness Campaign, pledging with community partners to focus on reducing chronic absenteeism in Haverhill’s schools.

Haverhill Promise partnered with elected officials, Haverhill Public Schools and others to spread the word about Attendance Awareness Month. The campaign’s theme this year is “Showing Up Together!”

“School attendance is not just an investment in a child’s future. It’s an investment in our community’s future. Improving student attendance affects everyone, not just individuals with school-age children,” said Dr. Jessica Kallin, executive director of Haverhill Promise. “Reading proficiency is the cornerstone of education, and regular attendance ensures that students develop the necessary skills to become proficient readers.”

“Showing Up Together” asks school leaders, community advocates, parents and students to build a habit and a culture of regular attendance, identify and address barriers to getting children to school and get involved and support local efforts to address chronic absenteeism.

Haverhill Public Schools recognizes good attendance is essential to academic success, and far too many students are at risk academically because they are chronically absent. Chronic absence is described as missing 10% of the school year—or 18 days—for any reason.

“Every school day counts and attendance matters significantly in student learning. While missing two school days per month may seem insignificant, the days quickly add up to 20 missed days in a year,” said Haverhill school Superintendent Margaret Marotta. She explained, “Chronic absenteeism affects a student’s academic progress and personal development.”

In a statement, Haverhill Promise said, “Our country faces a school attendance crisis. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, eight million students were chronically absent. Data from states now indicates absenteeism has doubled, affecting nearly 16 million students nationwide by the end of the 2021–22 school year.

Starting as early as kindergarten or even preschool, chronic absence predicts lower third grade reading scores. Research shows that by middle school, it’s a warning sign that students will fail key classes and drop out of high school.

Chronic absence disproportionately affects children from low-income families and communities of color, creating attendance gaps that exacerbate achievement gaps in local schools. Many children, especially in the early grades, miss too much school because of chronic health problems, unreliable transportation or housing moves—barriers that city agencies and community partners can help families address.

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