|Student Attendance and the Link to Performance|
|posted by: Alix | June 15, 2012, 03:41 PM|
Obviously chronic absence from school can greatly affect a student's performance levels; however, student truancy may have broader implications beyond the individual student. According to recent studies on American student absenteeism, teachers and the overall performance of schools can also be adversely affected.
Based on a report by John Hopkins University, up to 15% of American children are chronically absent from school (missing at least one day in ten) and are ultimately doing long-term harm to their academic progress. In other words, up to 7.5 million students miss a month of school each year. The study also argues that officials tend to gauge absenteeism in the wrong way by requiring states and districts to measure average daily attendance rates instead of focusing on the number of students who account for most absences.
Additional research links frequent student absence to low academic achievement and high dropout rates. Several studies done in major cities, including New York and Chicago, suggest that attendance may predict a student's academic progress just as effectively as raw test scores do. Low income students are also more likely to miss school than any other demographic. Essentially, if a student isn't coming to school regularly, their likelihood of graduating declines significantly.
Unfortunately, while truancy and illness account for some absences, researchers suspect that the primary problem is absences that are "optional" but excused with a parent's permission. Researchers suggest that most parents are aware of chronic absenteeism and are contributing to the overall problem.
Marie Groark, Executive Director of the Get Schooled Foundation, asserted that attendance is a root issue in addressing improving a struggling education system overall. "There are so many efforts at school reform, but what people overlook is that none of them work if the kids don't show up," Groark stressed. If students aren't in class, these reform policies will clearly not make an impact.
Teachers also have their concerns over the issue. Illustrating a typical day in her inner-city classroom, one teacher recalled the constant need to literally get her class on the same page. "There might have been 35 kids theoretically in my class," she said, "but on any given day, only 20, 25 were there, and it wasn't the same 20 or 25 from one day to the next, so we were always playing catch-up." When students aren't showing up the teacher's job can become next to impossible.
In light of the data, school systems across the country are searching for ways to combat the problem. Just a few weeks before the end of the school year, New York City launched a multi-million dollar campaign that asks parents, "It's 9:00 AM Do You Know Where Your Kids Are?" Prior attempts at finding solutions have included celebrity messages and "robo" wake-up calls from famous musicians.
Ultimately, the issue affects families, teachers, and students of all ages. If a student misses even just a few days in the early grades, the impact can be tremendous on his or her ability to catch up and excel in high school.
What do you think can be done to combat chronic absenteeism?