While too many students at all grade levels are regularly absent from school, many preschoolers and kindergarteners are missing nearly as much seat time as teenagers, according to a new report.
The lost learning time, particularly in the younger grades, translates into weaker mathematics and reading skills, and these become long-term deficits for students even years down the road, according to the new report publish last year.
Those findings are consistent with a recent study by the University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago School Research, which found that preschoolers who were chronically absent had weaker social-emotional development, and more trouble with basic academic skills later on, than their peers with better attendance.
“Chronic absenteeism” is defined by the researchers as missing at least 10 percent of instructional time over the course of an academic year. That’s about 18 days. Recent research found that in American schools, one in ten kindergarten and first- graders are meeting that threshold, which amounts to a month of instructional days. The Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University conservatively estimates that 10 to 15 percent of the nation’s K-12 population is not attending school on a regular basis.
While it’s a truism that children can’t learn when they’re not in school, historically chronic absenteeism hasn’t received much attention in the broader debate over how to improve outcomes for students. That is beginning to change as schools search for ways to improve learning outcomes. At Swan Christian College we have commenced a monitoring program designed to tell us more about student absentee patterns and the impact it has on their learning.
Our initial goal is to build awareness of the importance of monitoring attendance so all students have the chance to learn and succeed. We need to start right away to connect students who are struggling with poor attendance with positive, engaging supports and to activities that will motivate them to attend class every day. Parents are welcome to contact us if they feel they have a problem getting their child to school on a regular basis.
As we go into the mid-year break, I would like to wish all students a happy and relaxing holiday and look forward to seeing you all back here ready to learn and be the best you can in second semester.
Mr Adrian Scott