Schools are a place for fostering the minds of students to prepare for their futures. But nowadays, educators notice that classroom seats are being left empty for days on end, in more significant amounts than before.
Chronic absenteeism is a nationwide crisis taking away your students’ potential. To help combat this, it is up to educators to keep students physically and mentally present in their classrooms.
Chronic absenteeism – when students miss about 15 days or more of school – can leave a student at severe risk of being left behind. According to the U.S. Department of Education, chronic absenteeism affects over 7 million students or about 16% of the student population.
Students of every background experience chronic absenteeism, but it occurs at different rates for various reasons. For example, high school students have the highest rate of 20% chronic absenteeism, especially if they are of low-income or immigrant status.
The leading causes for chronic absenteeism, regardless of background, are illness, transportation, safety issues, and poverty. This means that your chronically absent students may be experiencing problems outside the classroom.
Chronically absent students can experience massive setbacks, especially a decline in literacy. For example, 17% of third graders who experience chronic absenteeism currently have a kindergarten reading level.
Not only will your student have a setback in academic proficiency, but they may also struggle with their mental health going forward. Chronic absenteeism disrupts your students’ social-emotional development, meaning they will have difficulty building social skills or emotional regulation. Therefore, it is crucial to monitor your classrooms for chronic absenteeism for your students’ academic achievement and mental well-being.
Your role as an educator is to ensure that your students are attending class and you’re holding their parents accountable. You can resolve chronic absenteeism by following a few of these strategies.
An important strategy in reducing chronic absenteeism is simply setting attendance expectations. Your students and their families should learn about the importance of attendance through school media, handbooks, announcements, and meetings.
Establishing attendance expectations in all forms of communication makes students want to be in class. These expectations should be a mandatory strategy in reinforcing other methods of resolving chronic absenteeism.
Some of your students have adult figures in their lives that don’t look out for them; their caretakers are either too authoritative or not present enough. So getting to know your chronically absent students is another excellent strategy to reduce chronic absenteeism.
Looking after your chronically absent student will allow them to open up and let you resolve their problems. If you find that chronic absenteeism relates to an issue at home, it is best to have a meeting with their parents.
Early intervention is a strategy you can combine with looking out for your chronically absent students. For example, if a student is absent more than once a week, it’s best to set up a meeting with their parents soon.
Intervening early diminishes a minor issue quickly, so it does not become a recurring problem. When you meet your student’s parents, make positive changes and create an accountability plan. Ensure your student’s parents know you are watching out for their kids and have their best interests at heart.
Parents of chronically absent students often have little support in their households. An excellent strategy is reaching out to these parents and students to show that you don’t just expect their children to go to school but also care about their well-being.
Communicating with both parents and students allows for a plan for accountability with both of their consent. The collaboration between parents and students also builds a relationship with clear rules and understanding.
Another strategy is finding out what exactly is your student’s relationship with going to school itself. For instance, sometimes chronic absenteeism is because of disability or a lack of accessibility to consistent transportation.
Students who are incapable of attending school can benefit from hybrid or fully online schooling. According to Attendance Works, in a study covering data from 46 states: 31 states require in-person learning, but 40 states allow long-distance virtual education as an option.
Hybrid and online learning styles are becoming a norm throughout the United States. So remind your students and their parents that long-distance learning is an option if they cannot readily attend class.
These strategies for reducing chronic absenteeism show that you care about your students’ lives. Educators who look out for their students are the ones who are making a change during an epidemic of chronic absenteeism.
Making the right accommodations and intervening early in potential cases of chronic absenteeism can help set students up for success, allowing them to secure their futures today.
TeacherMade helps make school more accessible for all. If you want to give your chronically absent students tools to do hybrid learning, TeacherMade makes that easier. With TeacherMade, you can: