Mrs. Brewer's English Class

By: Anna Lange

As a school in Indiana, the Salem Community Schools district must meet certain requirements set by the state concerning attendance. These standards are set because of the significant impact attendance has on the overall grade of the school and students’ academic performance.

This year, the Salem district has had a range of 90%-93% attendance rate, with August having the highest attendance.

Of all the grades within SCS, Superintendent Jill Mires said that the highest attendance rates have been seen in the 3rd, 7th and 9th grade classes.

“I feel like our freshmen may be most excited about being a part of the high school experience,” Mires said, “as well as working toward earning high school credits and setting that goal of graduation in four short years. Also, attendance becomes a factor for participation in sports as we enter the middle school and high school levels.”

The State of Indiana sets a goal for a daily attendance of at least 95%. This goal aligns with the attendance standards and expectations outlined by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE).

When looking at the new Indiana GPS system, the Student Attendance indicator calculates the percentage of students with at least a 94% attendance rate. That is the number of students with at least a 94% attendance rate divided by the total number of students enrolled in the school.     

Salem’s rate for 2022-2023 was 53.7% which is 6.7% below the state average of 61.1%. 

“Every student attending school every day all day is our goal,” Mires said, “even if you're a little late, it's still worthwhile to come in and catch up on what you missed. We're here to help you succeed.

 "We understand that things happen, and sometimes mornings don't go as planned. If you find yourself running late or oversleeping, just come in when you can. We're here to help you catch up and make the most of your day. Of course, it is unavoidable to have sickness and unexpected issues arise for students and families.”

If a student is sick, it is best to stay at home and recover. Staying home when sick helps prevent the spread of illness to others. By avoiding contact with classmates and teachers and by trying to get better from a distance, it is much more beneficial to everyone else’s health.

“Missing a day or two of school because you're sick is completely understandable,” Mires said. “Your teachers and classmates will understand, and they'll want you to prioritize your health and well-being. It is also important that families contact the school each day while a student is out sick.”

Once you start feeling better, Mires advised that students should wait until they’re no longer contagious before returning to school. Typically, it's recommended to stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever has subsided without the use of fever-reducing medications.

Every day at school is important for learning and growth. Attendance and academic excellence are closely linked, and there is a strong correlation between consistent attendance and student achievement.

“Students will have greater and more consistent opportunities to learn and engage with the curriculum,” Mires said. “Being at school allows for active participation and also helps students develop positive habits and routines such as time management and organization. Being at school also supports the development of relationships with staff and their peers.”

Teacher at Salem High School and Middle School Michelle Medlock agreed that attendance is very important for students.

“If it's several days, it becomes very difficult because of the workload of what they missed on top of the current work coming in,” Medlock said. “Because I'm split between school buildings and the lack of any sort of activity period at the middle school and high school, it is difficult for students to find me to get help with make up or to make up any missed quizzes/tests.”

Parental support for student attendance is also essential for creating a positive and supportive environment that promotes regular school attendance and fosters academic achievement. 

“By working together [parents, schools, and the community] to prioritize attendance, we can help ensure that our students have the best possible opportunities for success in school and in life,” Mires said.

Medlock agreed that parents are important for student’s attendance and academic success. 

“I think at all levels it is very important for parents to value the attendance of their students,” Medlock said. “The middle school age group sees a lot of development into who they are as young adults and permanent habits as far as work ethic and dependability. If that development isn't fostered by the adults in their lives, parents and teachers, it becomes more difficult to develop them later in life.

“If parents are involved, they're making sure their kid has everything they need to succeed. They're helping with the things their students may struggle with. They are providing support when a student does well. They are helping their students develop skills such as responsibility, work ethic, dependability; all of which are important to be successful in anything.”

Mires explained, “There are various barriers that affect school attendance…sickness, mental health challenges, family challenges, transportation to name a few. Our goal is to collaborate between schools, families, communities, and support services to identify and work through challenges, provide necessary resources and interventions and create a supportive and inclusive learning environment conducive to regular school attendance.”