Chronic absenteeism can have a major impact on the academic success of students. This lesson will explore and define absenteeism and strategies to support students.
Importance of Regular Attendance
Consistent school attendance is critical for many reasons. When students miss school, they miss instruction, and playing catch up be very difficult, especially in older grades.
Daily attendance is like building a wall. As a student attends school each day, each lesson adds a block to the wall. When a student is chronically absent, they miss blocks of learning, causing gaps or holes, which can have a negative impact on their academic achievement in future grades. Also encouraging students to attend school everyday sends the message to students that school is important and should be taken seriously!
What Is Chronic Absenteeism?
According to the Education Commission of the States, the average number of school days in most school years is 180 days. The criteria for chronic absenteeism varies, but generally students who miss 10 or more days of school or 10% or greater of the school year are considered chronically absent. It is very important that students, as much as possible, attend school everyday so that they can receive consistent instruction and so teachers can track student progress and provide interventions and support if necessary.
Strategies to prevent absenteeism are necessary in any school environment.
Students in all grades should be reminded of the importance of regular school attendance. These are some examples of ways to support students.
- Positive School Environment
This is one of the most important strategies. All schools should take a look at their school environment to make sure that the school and classrooms are friendly, student-centered and bully-free. (Often times a student may fake an illness to avoid school work or because they may be experiencing bullying in school.)It helps to have a consistent method for parents and students to communicate concerns or problems of this nature to teachers and administrators so that any negative issue can be addressed right way. Effective communication creates an open relationship with parents and students, which supports a positive school culture.
This can be done by having a suggestion box, email and phone numbers readily available for who to contact if there is a problem and to encourage frequent correspondence.
- Written Correspondence
Another important strategy in addressing frequent absenteeism is written correspondence with parents when a student begins to miss days. Letters should be sent home to notify parents that their student is in danger of chronic absenteeism. This can also be a way for schools to provide updated information about attendance status. Open communication can also open dialogue that reveals problems that are preventing regular attendance and allows the school to find ways to provide support.
- Incentives and Awards
Incentives and awards are proactive strategies to encourage both parents and students to reach for the goal of perfect attendance! Incentives could be popcorn parties, announcements over the school PA system or treats for every month of perfect attendance. Students also look forward to receiving those perfect attendance awards at the end of each school year!
School advertisements promoting regular attendances go a long way and provide reminders for parents and students. Posters with sports figures that you can buy or create or catchy slogans posted throughout the school can serve as positive visual reinforcement. Also you can advertise good attendance in classroom or school newsletters or weekly notes sent home with students.
For students in need of a great deal of support, mentors can be extremely effective. You can contact your local community organizations for assistance with finding mentors who can establish a caring relationship with the parent and the student and add that extra special support, such as providing transportation, making weekly phone calls, taking students to lunch or even buying them an alarm clock.
Regular school attendance is a critical part of successful academic achievement.
Students at-risk for chronic absenteeism usually face some type of challenge that requires additional supports, such as mentorship, regular communication and encouragement. Remember that going the extra mile with students and parents goes a long way to support regular school attendance.