School attendance

The Marion School District is joining a nationwide campaign to promote school attendance and help reduce chronic school absenteeism in the new school year.

The effort is part of the 2023 Attendance Awareness Campaign organized by the advocacy organization “Attendance Works.”

Studies show that strong school attendance is essential to academic success. However, far too many students are at risk academically because they are chronically absent. Chronic absence is described as missing 10% of the school year -- or about 18 days -- for any reason. 

Schools across the United States are facing a growing school attendance crisis. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, around 8 million students were chronically absent each year. In the years since, data from states indicate that absenteeism has likely doubled, potentially affecting at least 16 million students nationwide.

Starting as early as kindergarten or even preschool, chronic absence predicts lower 3rd grade reading scores. By middle school, it’s a warning sign that students will fail key classes and drop out of high school, research shows.

Chronic absence disproportionately affects children from low-income families and communities of color, creating attendance gaps that exacerbate achievement gaps in local schools. This is not just a matter of truancy. Many children, especially in the early grades, miss too much school because of chronic health problems, unreliable transportation, or housing moves -- barriers that city agencies and community partners can help families address. 

“The problems caused by chronic absenteeism in schools across the country are certainly being felt in the Marion School District, and it is vital that everyone in our community is aware of this growing challenge,” said Dr. Glen Fenter, Marion superintendent. “The data is clear: Students perform better when they come to school regularly, and when they have regular access to skilled educators, like the amazing teachers we have here at Marion. Not only do students perform better throughout their academic careers, they are more successful after they graduate. You can’t be successful in school if you aren’t there.”

Marion Mayor Tracy Brick echoed Fenter’s sentiment, noting the impact of strong school attendance on the local economy.

“A strong school system is the backbone of a successful community,” said Brick. “Improving student attendance is one of the most important steps in improving education outcomes. When more students graduate on time, our community and economy are stronger. Those graduates are then prepared for the workforce and are able to become engaged in the community’s civic life.”

As part of the national Attendance Awareness Campaign, schools, city agencies, community nonprofits, faith-based groups, businesses, and others around the nation are renewing their commitment to dedicate time and resources to raise public awareness, map local attendance gaps, and work with community partners to improve school attendance and student engagement starting as soon as children enter school.

“September is a particularly good time to focus on attendance,” said Hedy Chang, executive director of Attendance Works. “Research shows that students who miss two to four days in the first month of school are more likely to become chronically absent during the school year. By paying attention to absences early in the school year and early in a child’s academic career, we can turn around attendance and achievement.”

For the Attendance Awareness Campaign, parents, students, school leaders, and community advocates are being asked to act upon these critical first steps to help stem chronic absenteeism:

  • Build a habit and a culture of regular attendance
  • Use data to determine when and with whom chronic absence is a problem
  • Identify and address barriers to getting children to school

The Marion School District is an innovative and growing district committed to helping every student find their unique path to success in school and in life. With more than 150 years of experience serving families in Crittenden County, the district offers a high school, a junior high, a seventh grade school, and three award-winning magnet schools. For enrollment information, including information on school choice, visit or call 870-739-5100.