The start of a new school year can be an exciting time for many students. It can also be a time of dread for those who do not have new clothes and school supplies. When students go back to school prepared and ready to learn they are eager and full of excitement. For those children and youth who are a part of the population that cannot afford new clothes and school supplies it’s a time of anxiety and stress, which can lead to higher rates of absenteeism.
The best teachers can only be effective when the students are in attendance, focused, and ready to learn. Every school day counts in a student’s education. Regular attendance is essential to providing students with opportunities to learn. From an instructional perspective, any absence, regardless of whether the absence is excused or not, interferes with student learning. While research substantiates the importance of teacher effectiveness on student academic success (Darling-Hammond 2000), even the most effective teachers cannot support student learning unless students are physically or virtually present in class.
The early years matter in a students education. The relationship between attendance and achievement often appears in early grades, and attendance can influence student outcomes throughout a student’s school life. Absenteeism in prekindergarten and kindergarten is associated with future negative outcomes such as higher rates of absenteeism, slower progression, and lower achievement in later years (Connolly and Olson 2012). Poor attendance also has serious implications for older students. High school students who are chronically absent are less likely to graduate on time and more likely to drop out of high school; and high school students who drop out have been found to have exhibited higher rates of absenteeism throughout their childhood than high school graduates (Attendance Works 2014, Attendance Works and Healthy Schools Campaign 2015).
Every student needs the necessary resources to achieve their full potential. This includes being prepared for school with clothing that fits, is age appropriate for their grade, and is in season.
As our founder Laura Wood Stewart said, New clothes equalize, used clothes pauperize. The National Giving Alliance has provided new clothes to children, youth, and families for more than 138 years.