If your k-12 school system is challenged to maintain healthy student attendance, it’s far from alone.
The U.S. Department of Education reports chronic absenteeism is prevalent across the country - affecting all races and ethnicities of students. Data released this year shows 15 percent of all K-12 students in the U.S. — a whopping 8 million youth — were chronically absent over the 2015-16 school year. That’s a million more than the count in 2013-14.
Ultimately, that’s as problematic for the students as the schools missing out on the funding.
"Frequent absences from school can be devastating to a child's education,” advises U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. in one DOE study. “Missing school leads to low academic achievement and triggers drop outs. Millions of young people are missing opportunities in post secondary education, good careers and a chance to experience the American dream."
In response, education analysts have developed tools around parent engagement and anti-bullying measures geared toward tackling chronic absenteeism. And summer can be an ideal time to work on your school’s improvement plan.
Research by Attendance Works shows parent engagement can have a profound effect on remediating absenteeism, which is why it advises schools to take steps such as orienting parents early about attendance expectations; communicating often and trying to build relationships with parents; providing parents with key school contacts and, when necessary, intervening through home visits or referrals to truancy officers.
The key is often careful and diligent management. “Don’t assume if a child is chronically absent it’s a signal parents do not care about the child’s education or attendance,” advises the study. “Ask about what they already do that works. Find out if they can think of any positive examples of activities or supports that made it easier to get their child to school.”
Helping solve bullying issues can also make a dent. A recent study found U.S. schools lose tens of millions of dollars annually when children miss school to avoid bullies, lowering daily average attendance rates that dictate governmental funding.
In one survey of public schools in California, 10.4 percent of students in grades 7, 9 and 11 reported missing at least one day of school over the previous month due to feeling unsafe. While most schools already have anti-bullying programs in place, your school may find significant room for improvement when it comes to management of real-life situations.
Talk to Alert Solutions about our school resources including best practices, tips, tricks and popular strategies related to chronic absenteeism and bullying prevention.