Attendance and Engagement
St. Vrain Valley Schools recognizes the importance of being present every day. Student attendance – more than a test score or any other data point – is one of the most accurate indicators of whether a student will graduate and find success after high school. Students who have regular attendance in kindergarten and first grade are far more likely to be at or above grade-level in third grade and in later grades, score much higher in essential math and reading assessments. It is critical for students to attend school daily in order to acquire the knowledge, skills and confidence needed to be college and career ready.
According to the Colorado Compulsory School Attendance Law (C.R.S. 22-33-101 et seq.), it is the obligation of every parent/guardian to ensure that their child who has attained the age of six years on or before August 1 of each year and is under the age of seventeen years to attend school for at least the following number of hours during each school year:
- 1,056 hours in middle and high school
- 968 hours in elementary school
- 900 hours if a full-day kindergarten pupil
- 450 hours if a half-day kindergarten pupil
The Student Attendance and Engagement Department works closely with students, parents and schools to ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn. Our team provides case management, support, and resources to help students and families maintain regular attendance and overcome barriers to school success.
What is Truancy?
Under Colorado state law, a student is considered Habitually Truant if they have missed 4 (or more) unexcused days of school in a month or 10 (or more) unexcused days in a school year. Truancy differs from absenteeism in that it refers only to unexcused absences. The Student Attendance & Engagement Team understands that there are many factors from a variety of sources that impacts truancy, including poor academic performance, poverty, high levels of mobility, student and/or parent substance abuse, trauma, homelessness, mental health and lack of engagement. We work with students and families to help identify barriers to regular attendance and support the student to re-engage in school as research suggests that truancy is a risk factor for other problems such as criminal behavior, dropping out, substance abuse and teen pregnancy.
If a student is truant, the school may place the student on a school level attendance contract and refer the student to the Student Attendance & Engagement Team for district level interventions. Once a referral is received, an attendance liaison will meet with the student and the parent/guardian to gather information and determine the root cause and barriers to regular school attendance. During this meeting, a district level attendance plan and goals will be created and referrals to appropriate community resources to address the unique barriers for the family will be provided. The attendance liaison will continue to follow up with the family and monitor attendance. If a student continues to be habitually truant, a petition may be filed with the Truancy Court.
What is Chronic Absenteeism?
Chronic Absenteeism is defined as missing 10 percent or approximately 18 days per academic year, both excused and unexcused. That’s just two days a month. Absences, even when excused can add up and negatively impact academic achievement. Studies have shown that a chronically absent middle or high school student is seven times more likely to drop out before graduation and only 11 percent of chronically absent high school students complete their second year of college (compared to 51 percent who establish good attendance habits in high school). Not only does chronic absenteeism impact the absent student, it can impact all students in a classroom or school since it interferes with a teachers’ ability to cover all required content and slows the learning for the entire class. In contrast, students who have regular attendance in kindergarten and first grade are far more likely to be at or above grade level in third grade and in later grades, score much higher in essential math and reading assessments.
Find out how missing even a few days can impact a student’s academic achievement and graduation with the Attendance Counts tool.
What is an Excused Absence?
The building principal or their designee will grant excused absences with substantiated reason. The following will be considered:
1. A student who is temporarily ill or injured or whose absence is approved by the administrator of the school of attendance on a prearranged basis. Prearranged absences shall be approved for appointments or circumstances of a serious nature only which cannot be taken care of outside of school hours.
2. A student who is absent for a prearranged extended period due to physical, mental or emotional disability.
3. A student who is pursuing a work-study program under the supervision of the school.
4. A student who is attending any school-sponsored activity or activities of an educational nature with advance approval by the administration.
The following may be considered excused absences at the discretion of the principal or designee:
1. Serious illness or death in the family.
2. Family emergencies or hardship.
3. Family vacations. (While discouraged, such excuses should be prearranged with the school administration. If a student has poor attendance or poor academic performance, a principal may deny an excused absence for vacation purposes.)
4. Religious observances when requested by a parent or guardian.
5. Absence required by a legal body or social agency (court, juvenile authorities, public health department or police).
6. Military connected students whose parent or legal guardian has been called to duty, is on leave from, or immediately returned from deployment.
The district may require suitable proof regarding the above exceptions, including written statements from a health care provider.
What is an Unexcused Absence?
An unexcused absence is defined as an absence that is not covered by one of the foregoing exceptions. Each unexcused absence shall be entered on the student’s record. The parents or guardians of the student receiving unexcused absences shall be notified orally or in writing by the district, district designee, or building staff.
Parents/guardians shall be required to furnish an explanation for student absenteeism either in writing or orally. Absences not explained within two days after returning to school shall be recorded as unexcused absences unless unusual or extenuating circumstances exist as determined by the building administrator.
In accordance with law, the district may impose academic penalties which relate directly to classes missed while unexcused. Students and parents/guardians may appeal to the area assistant superintendent or designee for exceptions to this policy or the accompanying regulations provided that no exception shall be sustained if the student fails to abide by all requirements imposed as conditions for granting any such exception.
The minimum number of unexcused absences a student may incur before judicial proceedings are initiated to enforce compulsory attendance is four (4) days in one month or ten (10) days during any school year.