As reported, the absentee rate at some of our nation’s largest districts are rising as schools face higher chronic absenteeism rates than they did prior to the pandemic:
46% in Los Angeles Unified School District
44% in Ohio’s Akron Public Schools
40% in New York Public Schools
As reporter Naaz Modan writes in the article, these percentages may increase even higher among earlier student grades. These grades are typically the ones most affected by learning loss. “Chronic absenteeism for kindergartners in Akron, for example, is at 47%,” writes Modan.
With record levels of chronic absenteeism, school leaders, teachers, and families must take action to keep students in the classroom.
How Does Absenteeism Affect Students?
The pandemic validated two common-sense ideas: if a kid isn’t in class, they can’t learn. And if a kid is in class, they’re far more likely to learn than a kid who never attends.
For educators, the link between attendance and academic outcomes is abundantly clear:
Chronic absenteeism prevents children from reaching early learning milestones, such as reading at grade level.
Irregular attendance can be a better predictor than test scores of whether students will drop out.
Frequent absences affect achievement through high school and into adulthood.
In areas where federal or state funding is tied to student attendance, schools that serve low-income families are at a disadvantage — because they are the schools that face the highest levels of absenteeism.
Attendance-based funding then proves detrimental to our most vulnerable student populations. The reduced funding cascades into lower student outcomes, budget cuts, and fewer resources overall for teacher salaries, classroom supplies, campus maintenance, student programs, and more.
Prevention of chronic absenteeism is thus necessary to ensure a school’s financial sustainability and long-term appeal to prospective parents and guardians.
How to Prevent Absenteeism of Students
While chronic absenteeism is a complex problem, many of its solutions are simple to enact.
In our 16-page guide, Curbing Chronic Absenteeism: Real Actions School Leaders Can Take to Make a Big Difference, you’ll find guidance for:
Identifying chronically absent students in your school or across your district
Identifying which student groups are most likely to experience absenteeism
What you can do to stem at-risk behavior among students
How to bring back students who have left and get them to graduation
You’ll learn six effective, broad strategies to prevent absenteeism and keep students where they need to be: in the classroom, ready to learn, with teachers and administrators who are dedicated to their success.
Click the image below to view the guide and learn more:
The strategies are fairly easy, intuitive, and highly replicable. And the recommended tools provide insights that allow schools to use behavior data to be proactive and positively impact attendance.
As Christine Pitts, resident policy fellow at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, writes, “Imagine if every school board meeting started with a quick review of crucial student wellness measures like attendance. Discussing these data may help districts unpack why disengagement and absenteeism remain a challenge, especially for historically underserved student groups.”