Attendance & Truancy

Supportive services to help improve student daily attendance.

About Attendance & Truancy

The School District of Philadelphia is here as a trusted partner with families to help your child attend school on time on the first day and every day during the school year. On this page, you’ll find helpful information, toolkits, and other resources to support your child’s attendance success.

Research shows that daily school attendance is critical for every student’s academic success and social-emotional well-being. Students with good attendance are more likely to:

  • read on or above grade level
  • perform well in math
  • build healthy, lasting relationships at school
  • and successfully graduate high school on time

Absences can add up quickly!

Students who miss just 2 days a month will end up missing nearly a month of school by the end of the school year.

Attendance Matters

Benefits of Good Attendance

Children get much more than academics at school. They also learn social and emotional skills, get healthy meals and exercise, and stay connected to mental health supports and other important services.

Attending school on time, every day:

    • provides your child with the opportunities for discovery, exploration, learning and achievement they need to thrive
    • allows teachers to best support your child’s academic progress and their unique learning styles and abilities
    • offers students real-time access to the technology and other educational resources they need to engage in their education
    • leads to daily interactions with teachers, peers and support staff who help students develop friendships, learn more about themselves, build empathy, and better handle stress. This is especially important for children with diverse learning needs.

Select your language to learn more about the importance of good attendance for students.
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Impacts of Poor Attendance

The more school time a student misses:

  • the less likely they are to be proficient in math and reading by fourth grade, which is when students are no longer learning to read, but reading to learn
  • the less likely they are to graduate high school on time
  • the more likely they are to drop out of school
  • the more challenging it becomes to catch up

Nonetheless, it’s never too late to work with your child’s school to help improve attendance.

Student Attendance Records

It is important that an accurate record of your student’s attendance is properly recorded so that we can identify how best to support all of our students and plan for their future academic success.

Please ensure with your child’s school that your child’s attendance records are accurate and up-to-date and that you address any inconsistencies with the school.

Note: If you have questions regarding correcting your child’s attendance records, please call your child’s school and ask to speak with the secretary.

How can I see my student’s attendance records?

You can view your child’s attendance information in the Parent & Family Portal.

How Can Families Support Good Attendance?

Families can help children achieve good attendance and stay on track at every grade level by:

  • Familiarizing yourself with the District’s student attendance requirements
  • Ensuring your child is prepared for the school day
  • Informing the school of your child’s absence
  • Provide written excuse notes to the school when your child is absent

Here are some tips and resources to support you as you prepare your child to attend school on the first day of school and every day throughout the school year.

BEFORE the school year begins:

  • Know your child’s bell & bus schedule – Check the school’s website or call the school office for details.
  • Plan Your Daily Routine with Your Child – Post it at home using our Daily Routine reminder. 
  • Make a plan and backup plan for getting to school on time – It’s so important to have people in your life who have your back. Ask family, friends or neighbors to be your school drop-off back up. And be theirs, too.
  • Plan Ahead for Early Dismissal Days – Learning continues on these days. Be sure your child attends school and has an after-school care plan in place. Visit for the full calendar.
  • Update your contact information – Moved? New phone number? Have emergency contacts changed? Contact the school and let them know. Having correct information on file allows school staff to keep in touch with you on attendance and other matters, and to contact you in an emergency.
  • Make sure your child is up to date on required immunizations
    Schedule an appointment at or call 1-877-926-9272.
  • Register for a Parent and Family Portal account if you don’t yet have one
    Access information about your child’s attendance, grades, test scores, and more, anytime. Register at

DURING the school year: 

  • Be Your Child’s Attendance Champion – Let them know you care about school because when you’re excited, they are too!
  • Celebrate Great Attendance At Home – Use our Weekly Attendance Tracker and Attendance Hero Certificate to make it fun for all.
  • Talk To Your Child’s Principal, Teachers or the School Nurse – If you are having or expect to have attendance challenges, they can work with you to help address them.

Attendance Expectations

Who Must Attend School?

Under Pennsylvania law, all students between the ages of six (6) and eighteen (18) must attend school every day.

  • Once a student is enrolled in school, this includes students in kindergarten, they are subject to compulsory school laws until the student reaches age 18.
  • A parent/guardian who enrolls their child in kindergarten may formally withdraw their child from school prior to reaching compulsory school age (age six), at which point the child would no longer be subject to compulsory school laws until they turn six (6) years old.

A student shall be considered in attendance if:

  • present at any place where school is in session by authority of the Board
  • receiving approved tutorial instruction or health or therapeutic services
  • engaged in an approved and properly supervised independent study, work-study, or career education program
  • receiving approved homebound instruction; or if the student’s placement is instruction in the home.

When Can a Student’s Absence Be Excused?

An excused absence is when a student is absent from school for a reason identified by the District as legitimate, valid and reasonable. The following conditions or situations are examples of reasonable causes for absence from school.

  • Obtaining professional health care or therapy service
  • Quarantine
  • Recovery from accident
  • Required court appearance
  • Death in family
  • Educational, project or performance (i.e. music/dance/stage) related trip/tour under specific conditions
  • College tours, trade school tours, career and technical training program tours, community college tours, or tours of other non-District schools, with prior approval.
  • Observance of a religious holiday observed by a bona fide religious group, upon prior written request from the person in parental relation.
  • Family Emergency (An unexpected, serious event that is outside of the control of the student’s family).
  • Other urgent reasons that may reasonably cause a student’s absence, as well as circumstances related to homelessness and foster care.

Some of these events have their own conditions that need to be met in order for the absence to be excused.

You can also learn more in the District’s 204 Attendance Policy.

Excused Absence Procedure & Written Note*

  • The District’s attendance policy requires written excuse notes explaining the absence.
    • Contact the child’s school to verify ways excuse notes may be submitted.
    • Excuse notes must be given to the school within three (3) days upon the student’s return to school. If the note is not submitted to the school within the required time frame, the day(s) may not be excused.
    • Excuse notes must include the student’s name, date(s) of absence(s) and a valid telephone number or other means of contact for verification purposes.
  • All absences resulting in a total of three (3) or more consecutive days due to illness will require a written excuse note by a licensed healthcare provider. Excuse notes from a healthcare provider may also be submitted in lieu of a parent note for any absence.
  • For absences that do not total three (3) consecutive days, parents may submit a written excuse note stating the reason for the absence.
  • When a student has been absent due to illness, excused with a parent note, totaling eight (8) days (cumulative), all subsequent absences may require a written excuse note from a licensed healthcare provider.

*The submission of notes does not guarantee automatic excusal of absences and are subject to school review to determine the validity of submitted notes.

Temporary Excusals

The following students may be temporarily excused from the requirements of attendance at District schools:

  • For the purpose of receiving tutorial instruction in a field not offered in the District’s curricula, with certain requirements*.
  •  Students participating in a religious instruction program, with certain conditions*.
  •  School-age students unable to attend school upon recommendation of the school physician and a psychiatrist or school psychologist, or both, and with approval of the Secretary of Education of the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

*As outlined in the 204 Attendance Policy

Unexcused/Unlawful Absences

An absence is considered “unexcused” or “unlawful” when either a written note was not submitted to the school upon the student’s return from the absence (in accordance to written note protocol), or the reason provided in the written note by the parent/guardian was deemed invalid by the school, and did not meet the conditions or situations outlined in the District’s 204 Attendance Policy.

Examples of invalid excuses include (but not limited to):

  • babysitting
  • waking up late
  • illness of a family member
  • family vacation

Note: An out-of-school suspension may not be considered an unexcused absence.

Absence Excuse Note Templates

These templates are available for parents/guardians to use as written absence notes to submit to their child’s school.
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What is Truancy?

Truancy means having three (3) or more unexcused absences during the current school year, by a student subject to compulsory school attendance. Students who have six (6) or more unexcused absences are considered habitually truant. Students who have ten (10) or more unexcused absences are considered chronically truant.

Truancy Process

The School District of Philadelphia has an obligation to address truancy through a designated process. The intention of this process is to provide assistance and support. We aim to avoid involving families in truancy court or the child welfare system. Your cooperation is appreciated in ensuring that your student fulfills attendance requirements.

To read more about the District’s Response to Truancy, click HERE

Attendance Policy



District Family Resources & Services

Philadelphia Family Resources & Services



  • PHLpreK – Free, quality Pre-K throughout Philadelphia.



  • Office of Homeless ServicesEmergency housing, case management, and support finding long-term housing.



  • Nationalities Services Center – Comprehensive services in language access, legal protections, community integration, employment and health and wellness.
  • HIAS – Legal, social support, and citizenship services.
  • Chester County Intermediate Unit- Migrant Education – The Migrant Education program strives to ensure that migrant students receive educational services to develop to their fullest potential. 484-237-500


  • Philadelphia Mental & Physical Health Services – Public health resources, programs, and notifications for Philadelphia residents.
  • City Health CentersAffordable health services. Small fee based on income if uninsured. Call 311
  • Community Behavioral HealthMental health and substance abuse treatment.
  • Healthy Minds Philly – Wellness tips and resources for families and communities looking to address trauma, cope with uncertainty, stay connected, find mental health support, and thrive.
  • Uplift Center for Grieving Children – Support groups for children and teens in grades K-12th who have experienced the death of someone significant in their lives.
  • Philly Hopeline – Free and confidential helpline for grief and emotional support. The Philly HopeLine is open to all youth and caregivers in the Philadelphia region. 1-833-745-4673





Absence Excuse Note Templates
These templates are available for parents/guardians to use as handwritten absence notes to submit to their child’s school.
English | SHQIP | عربي | 汉语 | Français | ខ្មែរ | Pусский | Español | Việt

Health Guidance for Student Attendance

Downloadable Resources & Toolkits

Read By 4th Family Attendance Toolkit
Select your language to download the toolkit.
English | SHQIP | عربي | 汉语 | Français | ខ្មែរ | PortuguêsPусский | Español | Việt

Attendance Checklist
Select your language to learn more about the importance of good attendance for students.
English | SHQIP | عربي | 汉语 | Français | ខ្មែរ | Português | Pусский | Español | Việt

Academic Calendar
Select your language to download the 23-24 academic calendar.
English | SHQIP | عربي | 汉语 | Français | ខ្មែរ | PortuguêsPусский | Español | Việt

Student Attendance Protocol: Quick Reference
Download in your language:
English | SHQIP | عربي | | Français | ខ្មែរ  | Português | Pусский | Español | Việt

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