DoDEA Attendance Program: Frequently Asked Questions
Does it really matter if a child misses school in kindergarten or the early grades?
Absolutely! School attendance is particularly important at the kindergarten and elementary grades. Early educational services are critical for establishing life-long skills.
How many days do students have to be in school for? and how long is the school year?
Recognizing the powerful link between successful learning and classroom attendance, the DoDEA policy establishes mandatory attendance of 180 instructional days per academic year for all students enrolled in a DoDEA school. We believe that school attendance promotes establishment of life-long positive habits that are critical for developing the skills necessary for career readiness and success in college.
This policy establishes the expectation that students must attend school, and that school attendance is equally as important during the kindergarten years as it is during middle school and high school. There are normally between 181-183 days scheduled in the school year for students.
The new policy mandates school attendance, requires 180 instructional days per academic year, and recognizes the reality of unavoidable absences such as illness, emergency situations, and other excused absences. Excused and unexcused absences are outlined in the attached policy. The DoDEA policy establishes a balance between the needs of our military families and the importance of education by requiring a student educational plan to mitigate the absence from school while maintaining high expectations for student learning.
Yes, this is a system-wide policy. It applies to all 194 DoDEA schools, in DDESS, DoDDS Europe, and DoDDS Pacific. This policy is aligned with attendance policies in many stateside school districts attended by military dependents, which should ease the challenges of transitioning during the year.
The DoDEA Attendance Policy is also aligned with the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, which recommends that schools consider the unique needs of the military by allowing extended absences from school for families to reunite following a deployment.
Some of the excused absences are subjective. Who will make... the decision about unique family circumstances, etc?
Parents are encouraged to speak with school administration regarding the reasons for school absences.
Mandatory school attendance has always been addressed in local, district and area policies across DoDEA. The new policy will formalize the expectations for attendance into a single, comprehensive policy system-wide that applies to DoDEA schools worldwide and mirrors policies of the public schools that also serve military children.
What about when a parent is deploying or coming home? Will you make allowances for those kinds of absences?
Those circumstances would fall under unique family circumstances.
DoDEA considers the following conditions to constitute reasonable cause for absence from school for reasons other than school related activities. The principal has final authority to identify an absence as excused from school and institute a Student Educational Monitoring Plan to be completed during absences when appropriate.
- Personal illness.
- Medical, dental, or mental health appointment.
- Serious illness in the student’s immediate family.
- A death in the student’s immediate family or of a relative.
- Religious holidays.
- Emergency conditions such as fire, flood, or storm.
- Unique family circumstances warranting absence and coordinated with school administration.
- College visits that cannot be scheduled on non-school days.
- Pandemic event.
The main change is the requirement that a student must be in school a minimum of 180 days of the school year. This is in line with most of the public schools in the United States. Another change is that the principal has final authority to identify an absence as excused from school and institute a Student Educational Monitoring Plan to be completed during absences when appropriate.
Other key components of the new policy include:
- A requirement for students to complete an educational plan consistent with regularly planned school work during absences;
- Increased communication with parents about the effect of absences on student performance;
- Referral of students with 5 days of absences to the Student Support Team and with 7 days of absences to the local Command for appropriate intervention and support; and
- Daily record-keeping, review, analysis of attendance.
The regulation was released on September, 1, 2011 and will go into effect immediately. Principals will begin the process of informing parents and students and making changes to school handbooks and other references at the school level. Recognizing that this is a new policy for DoDEA, we will elicit community and school feedback in early May 2012. If needed, the policy may be revised based upon an analysis of this feedback.
Your local DoDEA school principal can provide additional information.
Why was it done?, was there a problem with attendance or trying to make kids ready for switch to stateside public schools?
School attendance issues have been identified as a serious issue for children throughout the U.S. and military children are no exception. Multiple absences can impact considerably on a child's educational standing depending on state and local laws.
This system-wide policy is based upon the foundational principle that regular student attendance promotes higher levels of student achievement, school-connectedness, and readiness for colleges and careers. The new policy mandates school attendance, requires 180 instructional days per academic year, and recognizes the reality of unavoidable absences such as illness and emergency situations. The policy also aligns with the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children standard that school systems respect the unique the needs of military families when considering requests for excused absences.