Many students don’t believe much will change if they miss a day or two of school a month. But most are unaware of the major affect the absences adding up will have on their grades. Chronic absences lead to less instruction time, which puts a student behind on their work and can cause grades to quickly drop.
Some states define chronic absenteeism as a student missing over 10% of the school year, and others consider missing 15 days or 18 days of school as being chronically absent. Chronic absenteeism includes excused absences such as sickness, as well as unexcused absences and disciplinary reasons for being out of school. In the United States, more than 15% of all students are chronically absent.
Missing school in the earlier grades sets students up for absenteeism for the remainder of their school career. As early as kindergarten, absences will cause students to fall behind on critical reading skills that are necessary for proficiency and developing to go on to more complex work. By 6th grade, a student being chronically absent will indicate if that student will end up dropping out of high school.
Absenteeism during the first month of the school year predicts poor attendance throughout the rest of the year. It is said that half of the students who are missing two to four days of school in September will go on to miss almost of month of school. Over 7 million US students, or about 1 in 7 students, miss a month of school every year.
“Frequent absences not only mean less instruction, but also missed opportunities for intervention, reteaching and enrichment,” says Understood.org.
Improving attendance rates will allow students to improve themselves academically as well as improve their chances of graduating.
Absencesaddup.org explains that students who are attending school regularly “feel more connected to their community, develop important social skills and friendships, and are significantly more likely to graduate from high school, setting them up for a strong future.”
So, what motivates students to stay home and skip important class time? Sickness, social anxiety, academic struggles, travel, and bullying are common reasons students decide not to come to school.
Some don’t feel wanted or understood at in a school environment, or if they’re constantly failing, bored by the material they’re learning, or constantly being disciplined, they may avoid coming to school.
Sophomore Duha Mansoor missed nearly a month of school in December due to a vacation to visit family in Pakistan, putting her behind in her classes and leaving her with the tremendous amount of pressure to catch up on all the work she missed.
“I handed in all my work once I got back but some quizzes that I missed on new topics were marked as a zero and it was difficult to make them up. My grades didn’t drop too much, but they definitely could’ve been better.”
Having so much schoolwork to make up was extremely stressful to Mansoor, especially since she only had a week to complete a month’s worth of work.
Students might think their learning won’t be drastically affected by these absences, but in reality, they do have a huge affect. Being present at school will improve a student’s learning and comprehension of the material, putting them on the path for success. Every school day counts.