How do students do well in school? They go every day! Students may miss school for illness, emergencies, or for religious reasons, but we want to see every student in school every day. Did you know that a student with 90% attendance has missed one month of school by the end of the year? Students with less than 90% attendance are more likely to have lower test scores and not graduate from high school.
Here are some basic things you should know about attendance in New York City schools:
- Schools must take attendance to show whether a student is in school or not; it’s the law.
- Schools can mark an absence as “excused” for religious reasons, illness, or some other reasons, but they are still absences and must be part of the student’s record.
- Teachers can make attendance part of a class grade, but it cannot be the only reason for a failing grade or not being promoted or graduating.
- Schools must tell families when students are absent or late. Does your school have the right information to contact you?
Record-Keeping and Attendance Rules
Attendance is a required, legal record
A student who is not in school for at least one class period must be marked absent, even if the absence is excused. Attendance records in the electronic system cannot be changed after the middle of July. However, attendance records may be amended by submitting a letter to the student's file.
- Families check attendance on report cards, ask the school for attendance records, or follow attendance on your NYC Schools account
- Schools have strong routines for collecting, checking and updating data
Every absence counts. Excused absences are still absences.
Schools can excuse absences when a student misses school for religious, medical or emergency reasons, but the excused absences is a legal part of the student's record. Excused absences may not count against a student for school awards or participation in school activities. The Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) 90 percent attendance requirement that does not count excused absences.
- Families ask about school policies for absences and plan vacations, trips, and appointments when school is not in session.
- Schools publish school attendance policies, including rules for excused absences and vacations, and help student who do miss school stay on track with take-home and make-up work.
Schools must contact the student's family after every unexplained absence
Schools will reach out to learn why students missed school and how to help. Parents must provide a reason for absences. Follow-up and new outreach is required after ten missed days in a row, and when students in pre-K through eighth grade miss any 20 days. Schools must have up-to-date phone numbers and addresses so they can reach families.
- Families ask schools how and when they will notify you of absences and make sure your phone numbers on your NYC Schools account and on Blue Cards are correct.
- Schools tell families how and when they will be contacted about absences and regularly check and up-date family phone numbers and addresses.
Consequences for Absences or Lateness
A student who arrives late to school is counted as present for the day
Being at school on time is important, but it is always better to come to school late than to miss the whole day. Schools may keep students who are late or cut class—or who leave early—out of school activities or communal lunchtime, but a late student cannot be kept out of class.
- Families ask about what to do when a student must be late or leave early, or the consequences for a student who cuts class even if the student’s attendance is good.
- Schools know when students come late, leave early, or cut class in order to develop strategies to improve attendance.
Attendance alone cannot prevent promotion or graduation
Students cannot fail a class or not be promoted because of their attendance, but attendance may affect grades. Students who meet class expectations must receive credit and are not required to make up the exact hours of missed class time.
- Families ask schools about grading policies and requirements to make up class work if students miss school.
- Schools make sure students and families know grading and promotion policies, and have plans for make-up class work.
A student cannot be transferred or discharged because of absences
Students who travel out of the country, are hospitalized or in treatment, or who are at home for family or medical reasons are all absent. Schools and families work together to keep up with class work and transition back to school. Students above compulsory school age who are not going to school may be discharged with the consent of their families through the Planning Interview process. In some limited circumstances, schools may initiate a transfer of a student (see Chancellor's Regulation A-101, Section I.A.18, under Find Out More below).
- Families prepare for planned absences with the school (or tutors at some treatment sites). Ask about program changes at the school. Learn about options and alternate schools and programs.
- Schools know when students are absent and prepare academic plans for all non-attending students.
Common Reasons Students Miss School
Does your student miss school because of transportation problems?
- Find out about school bus routes and student MetroCards on the Metrocards page under Find Out More, below .
- You can find the best way to get to school by public transportation with tripplanner.mta.info.
- Ask the school if there is a “walking school bus” or a group of families who can take turns walking students to school.
- If you use a yellow school bus, make sure your school has the right phone number and address so you know about any changes.
- Talk with your school's parent coordinator if you have other travel worries.
Does your student miss school because of health issues?
- The school parent coordinator, social worker, guidance counselor, or nurse can help; ask them.
- The DOE School Health site has a list of health programs and benefits, immunizations, and school-based health centers that provide free medical care to all students.
- Your school can help plan how to manage your student's asthma. Complete the Asthma Action Plan with your school.
- The Medical Administration Form (see Health Services under Find out More below) allows the school to administer medication if your student needs it.
- A 504 accommodation (see Find out More below) for a barrier-free site or extra breaks during the day can help a student can stay in school.
- Learn about health insurance and benefits at the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene.
- There are mental health services for students with emotional or behavior issues. Visit the Mental Health page under Find Out More,
- There is Home or Hospital Instruction for students who cannot attend school because of a medical or physical condition, or emotional or psychological disability.
Does your student want to miss school because of school work?
- Meet with the teacher or counselor and ask about the student's classwork. Ask about tutoring programs or, possibly, evaluations for special services.
- Get homework help from Dial-a-Teacher.
- Families of high school students can check the graduation requirements under Find Out More below so they know exactly where the student is on the way to graduation.
- Families show school is important with simple habits like talking about school every day. Set and keep regular meal and bed times. Have books in the house or visits the library. Celebrate when your student does well.
Does your student want to miss school and you are not sure why?
- Talk about what is happening in school. If there is bullying, or online bullying talk with the guidance counselor or other staff. Learn about the Respect for All program and what families can do to help.
- Visit the school and ask for help on how to manage your student's social media use.
- Find out more about teen health and mental health issues.
- Look at the programs at DYCD Youth Connect or call 800-246-4646 to ask about after-school programs, tutoring services, and job opportunities for young people.
- The Family Assessment Program (FAP) office in your borough may be able to help you with crisis services, family counseling, mediation or other services. This is a program within ACS but families do not need to be ACS involved to participate and are not reported to ACS.
Other ways schools can help families with student attendance:
- Ask the school counselor to set up a "contract" with your student with goals for attendance, and rewards and consequences.
- Set up a time to talk with the parent coordinator or school counselor about attendance and any concerns.
- Ask about counseling services or a mentor for your student.
- Are there after school or extra-curricular programs to help keep your student interested in school.
- Different class schedules or co-op programs for high school students might help.
- There are resources for families. Let your school know what your family and student needs (housing, healthcare, school supplies, clothes, toiletries).
Daily Attendance Data
Visit Today's Attendance to see citywide attendance reported up to 4PM each school day.
Learn More About Attendance