Kids need to be present and learning in school every day to have a fair chance at academic success. Every educator knows the frustration of spending hours on a lesson, preparing supports for students, only to have students be absent and fall behind. Once the student returns to school, teachers often face the responsibility of getting that student caught up, on top of teaching the present day’s material. Absenteeism is one of the many influences that adds stress factors to the role of a teacher, and it is one that parents and schools can take action against.
Attendance Works published 10 facts relating to absenteeism in a student’s education, one of them being that “over 7 million (1 in 7) U.S. students miss nearly a month of school each year.” Schools around the country are well aware that chronic absenteeism is actively harming student education and is having deep and long-lasting impacts on a student’s educational trajectory and their shot at academic success.
In California, “a student is deemed chronically absent when he or she misses 18 or more days of school in a given year,” according to an Ed Source article outlining the specific implications for our state. The California Dashboard will now rank “a district as having ‘high’ absenteeism if between 10 and 20 percent of K-8 students miss 18 or more days.” Under these new measures, a district would be considered “very high” if 20 percent or more of its students meet this threshold. The California State Board of Education adopted this new criteria earlier this month. It’s important to note that California has not released absenteeism rates on the Dashboard in the past. In fact, they only began releasing these statistics for schools in 2017, since the system only requires two years of information to determine whether the school is showing improvement.
Although I’m excited to see clear data being presented regarding the huge problem that is absenteeism, we cannot turn a blind eye to the underlying issues that are the cause for this. Attendance Works has constructed valuable and accessible resources to support families both in understanding the importance of making sure their student’s learning is not disrupted, as well as creating backup plans when incidentals come up. While policy change continues to head in the right direction slowly, we cannot wait for this to start increasing and improving attendance rates for the students of California.
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