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Sep 08

School Attendance Myths

In a recent NASSP blog, Mel Riddle brings into focus the one constant that is always identified for limited learning for students: poor school attendance. It is not a new topic by any means and many educators have put forth recommendations for improving student school attendance.

In his blog, Mel does not offer remedies as much as much as an overview of the issues related to poor attendance. Among the subtopics listed in his blog are:

  • Older students miss more school time than younger students: this is not necessarily correct as younger students develop bad attendance habits even before arriving at middle school.
  • Absences in early grades do affect academics and can be used to be a predictor of drop-out statistics in later grades.
  • Parents are often blamed for poor school attendance and while that can be correct, family/work situations are sometimes related to student absenteeism. Helping parents with special circumstances can boost student attendance.
  • Student absenteesism does have an effect on state level assessments and potentially on school accreditation.  School staff must monitor individual student absences, the reasons for students being out of school and methods developed to keep students in their schools.

If you have, as an administrator worked with attendance issues at your school through parent conferences, team meetings/truancy meetings and involved social services, then you are aware of the time and effort needed to resolve student absenteeism. The level of communication necessary to focus on attendance issues is significant, and as Mel has written”…careful and consistent attention must be given to the anaylsis of the attendance record of each individual student, not just school wide data.”

Review Mel’s blog and when you have your next PTA meeting or Parent Advisory Committee meeting, share this blog with your parents. You may be “preaching to the choir,” but your message may find a way to the ears that need to  listen. It is worth a try.

You may access Mel’s blog at: http://nasspblogs.org/principaldifference1/2013/09/school-attendance-myths/