• johnf331

Student Attendance is a Leadership Issue


Wooden figurines showing a leader connected to others.

When I am conducting training or a workshop, you will hear me say, “Student attendance is a leadership issue.” I get a lot of head nods in acknowledgement but I don’t often see that as a practice in reality. So what does, “Student attendance is a leadership issue” really mean? When district leadership prioritizes attendance, it’s in the top 5 of the superintendent’s priorities.


The rationale of why this matters is simple. As employees, we focus on what matters most to our boss. For example, if the boss cares deeply about hiring, then HR is likely hosting recruitment fairs. If the boss isn’t paying attention to something, then employees are likely not working on it with the same intensity.


Districts with a strong leadership focus on attendance see greater gains than those that don’t.

This applies to attendance and creating a school-going culture across the district. Districts with a strong leadership focus on attendance see greater gains than those that don’t. Kids coming to school (or not) is the only activity that impacts every department—from how many buses to run, to how much food nutrition services should purchase, and attendance helps determine how many teachers to hire. I can’t think of any other indicator in a district that has that kind of cross-organizational reach.


If that’s not enough, improved attendance pays both financial and academic dividends, two key job determinants of superintendencies. So, while district superintendents have a lot on their plate, attendance should always take up a healthy portion of it.