Attendance Requirements
in Texas Schools

Compulsory attendance

Good attendance is important for many reasons. Your child receives the maximum benefit of education by being in school every day, and numerous studies show a strong link between academic performance and consistent attendance. Because attendance is so critical for the quality of your child's education, Texas has a Compulsory Attendance Law. 

State law requires schoolchildren to attend school each day that instruction is provided. The law applies to children between the ages of 6 and 18. If you voluntarily enroll your child in prekindergarten or kindergarten before age 6, school attendance laws apply to your child, too.

There are some exceptions:

  • Children who are enrolled in a private or parochial school
  • Children who are home-schooled
  • Students who are 17 years old and enrolled in a GED (high school equivalency) program
  • Students who are 17 years old and have received a high school diploma or GED certificate

Most other students of Texas public schools must comply with the Compulsory Attendance Law.

Excused absences

Although perfect attendance is the goal, it's not always possible. School districts are required to excuse a student's absence to:

  • Observe a religious holy day
  • Attend a required court appearance 
  • Serve as an election clerk
  • Appear at a governmental office to complete paperwork required in connection with the student's application for U.S. citizenship
  • Take part in a U.S. naturalization oath ceremony
  • Sound "Taps" at a military honors funeral held in Texas for a deceased veteran (grades 6-12 are eligible)
  • Attend a healthcare appointment (student must return to school on the same day of appointment)
  • Visit college campuses (juniors and seniors)

Your school has its own criteria for determining what else is considered an excused absence. Generally, an absence may qualify as excused in cases of:

  • Personal illness
  • Death of an immediate family member
  • Medical treatment
  • School-sponsored curricular or extracurricular activities
  • Activity required by a probation office or Human Services caseworker
  • Visiting a parent who is an active duty member of the uniformed services and has been called to duty, is on leave from, or has immediately returned from a combat zone or combat support posting

Penalties for too many unexcused absences

Both the child and parent are held responsible for unexcused absences. Yes, even if your child is 16 years old and skips class without you knowing, you are considered responsible!

After too many unexcused absences, the school must notify the parent. A compulsory attendance notification will be sent to the parent if a student has unexcused absences on 10 or more days or parts of days within a six-month period or three days or parts of days without an excuse during a four-week period. Notice it says "parts of days". That means that leaving school early, or arriving after the first bell has rung, even if the child attended for some of the day, can count as an absence.

The compulsory attendance letter gives the parent notice that the student has accumulated too many unexcused absences (and should not have any future absences) and gives the parent a chance to make corrections to the child's attendance record.

If corrections are not made, a court warning will notify the parent of the potential to be filed on in a justice or municipal court (or refer the student to juvenile court). Parents may be criminally charged, or fined, if their child has another unexcused absence.

90 Percent Rule

In addition to the Compulsory Attendance Law, there is the 90 Percent Rule, which states that students must attend class for 90 percent of the time it is offered to receive credit for the class. If the student doesn't meet this requirement, an attendance hearing committee may grant the student credit, depending on the circumstances.

The Student Handbook explains what your school's guidelines are on absences, tardies, and making up missed school work. Becoming familiar with the school's policies will help you manage your child's attendance and avoid missing too many days of school.

References