School Attendance


School attendance policies and practices

Questions or Concerns about Attendance in Tahoma?
Please contact your building administrator or one of our district administrators in Teaching and Learning at 425-413-3430.

Executive Director Teaching and Learning - Dawn Wakeley ([email protected])

Background Information on Attendance
School attendance is critically important. Simply put, if students aren't here we can't teach them. Frequent absences are an issue at many other school districts in Washington, which has the second-highest rate of absenteeism in the nation. Unfortunately, Tahoma is experiencing a higher percentage of chronically absent students than most districts. While not all of the reasons for frequent absences are clear, it is apparent that school attendance must become a higher priority for many of our students so that they have the best chance to be successful.

When students are not in school, they miss important learning opportunities that can't be made up by simply trying to catch up on assignments. In a 180-day school year, a 10 percent absentee rate equals two days a month, on average, that a student is not in school. Being in school every day is especially important to younger students. For example:

  • Starting in kindergarten, too many absences (excused and unexcused) can cause children to fall behind in school. As illustrated in the chart below, less than one fifth of students who are chronically absent during kindergarten and 1st grade will be achieving at grade level by grade 3 in reading and writing.
  • 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 by missing just a day or two every few weeks.


At secondary this impact is also seen as shown in the table below with graduation rates significantly impacted by chronic absence.

Graduation Rates change from 92% to 73% for high school students with chronic absence in Tahoma

The problem is not isolated to a particular grade level or group. Similar impacts are seen across all grade levels and in all core subjects. When students miss more than nine days of school, their learning and grades begin to suffer. As that increases upward toward 18 days (10%) the impact on learning increases significantly.

Math performance suffers most with chronic absence with only 41% of students meeting standard with chronic absence

This year, Tahoma School District is placing special emphasis on attendance. Parents will receive information throughout the year that promotes good attendance. Parents can also expect to be contacted if their child is frequently absent. The state is requiring that we look at total student absences and take action, whether excused or unexcused. School board policy also is changing to encourage improved attendance and to follow state law, which reduces what qualifies as an excused absence. In Tahoma we see this as being an important part of our Future Ready initiative. Regular school attendance and a commitment to learning carry over into future education and career opportunities.

"We need the help of parents and students if we are going to reduce absenteeism," Rob Morrow, superintendent, said. "We want students to be present every day. We understand that there will be times when students must miss school due to illness or other legitimate reasons. But we also believe that school must be the top priority for students so that they will have the best chance to succeed now and in their adult lives."

Chronic Absence Rate in Tahoma

Our chronic absence rate in Tahoma is alarming at 16.3% in 2015. This is above the state average of 16.03% and significantly different compared to those districts we typically look at when comparing student achievement data (highlighted with yellow below). We need to better understand what's happening and reduce our chronic absence rate.

Attendance Rates for Tahoma and other districts across state

Data Source - OSPI Performance Indicator Analytics

The chart below shows attendance rates for students across the grade levels in Tahoma for the 2015-16 school year. As you can see chronic absence rises dramatically with more than a quarter of our Tahoma students missing 18 or more days in high school. This impacts learning and isn't the habits we want our students to have to support success in college and work.

Absence rates in Tahoma in the 2015-16 school year

We hope parents and our entire community will join us in working to ensure that our students understand the importance of good attendance. Together, we can help our students prepare for their future by having good school attendance.

Tahoma Family Advocate and Community Truancy Board work to keep students in school

Regular school attendance is an essential element for student success. Tahoma School District monitors school attendance for all students and follows state law to ensure that students with excessive absences receive assistance.

In addition to people at each school who monitor attendance, Tahoma also employs a Family Advocate who serves as the district's truancy officer. The Family Advocate is responsible for ensuring the school district follows state attendance laws, especially for students who are chronically absent.

The Family Advocate also oversees the district's Truancy Board, which is a hearing board comprised of trained community volunteers. The board is used to assist students and families facing chronic unexcused absences and seeks remedies that will help the student stay in school. The board hearing is confidential and its guidance to students is not mandatory.

If a resolution is not possible through the Truancy Board process, students can be referred to the juvenile justice system via a truancy petition to the court. To learn more about the juvenile court process regarding truancy, please visit this web page:

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