By Joelle Saadeh ’17
Disengagement in school activities due to long-term absences can significantly affect a student’s development, academic achievements, and educational attainment throughout their high school education.
According to education.findlaw.com compulsory education laws require all children to attend school and attain a formal education through means of private schooling, public, or home schooling. Children must start school by age six and remain until age 16.
According to the article “Student Absences, Instructional Time, and Academic Achievement”, on average American students will miss two weeks of school a year. Long-term absences are responsible for a gap in math skills between children who come from high and low income families. Children from low income families are absent 10 days a year compared to high income children who are absent about 7 days a year.
“Some students are burning the candle at both ends. Their grades suffer and a good portion of a student’s grade goes to attendance,” said Ms. Filomena Daniels, a Midwood guidance counselor.
What can we do to help students to catch up? The children who deal with chronic absenteeism are likely to be students in out-of-home care, who are experiencing homelessness, are overseas students, have disabilities, and come from cultural and diverse backgrounds according to education.vic.gov.
Awareness is the first solution to chronic absences, which includes involvement of parents, teachers, mentors, guidance counselors, school personnel, and coaches. Different options are provided to help students deal with absences. Attendance improvement plans includes meeting with the parents, addressing individual needs, engaging with family, meeting with support groups, education plan, and re-engagement programs.
“We call home, we reach the parents, we sent letters, e-mail, and even sent representatives from the attendance office,” said Ms. Daniels
Meeting with the parents includes time to explain a plan of action to improve their attendance. Also identifying the reasons for absence is important.
Ms. Daniels explained that everyone is responsible to help students get back on track, which includes a group effort from teachers, parents, guidance counselors, the attendee office, and the student. A Midwood High School daily report form is used to track the student’s attendance as well as the attendance tracking system, which is used every time you swipe your school ID card. They use these systems to identify chronic absence patterns.
Strategies to improve attendance include getting involved in teams, clubs, SING, and voluntary work outside of school. It all depends on the student’s preferences.
It is a group effort to help get students involved in school activities and back to their normal school schedule. All are responsible to make sure that students are attending their classes and all are to help them get back on track.
“Teachers can’t help you all the time,” said Marco Ramirez ’17, “My friends usually help explain things to me by showing me examples from class.”
Students get left behind on work and have to find ways to catch up. Ramirez ’17 explained that he used outside sources such as Google and YouTube as a teaching tools to help answer his questions. Peer tutoring has proven beneficial in helping students to both socialize with fellow students and get a better understanding of the curriculum. Also there is a Big Brother and Big Sister program in the library that provides students with guidance from a more experienced student.
“It seems like a good program for students to help others in need,” said Yasmine Lo’17,“also showing that they truly understand the content of the topic.”
Ramirez ’17 explained that catching up could be hard if your class mainly depends on class work. We can work in our school community to help other students to deal with obstacles and getting them more involved in school activities.
“ Don’t give up!” said Ramirez ’17.