Discover the cascading effects of chronic absenteeism in K-12 and four things you can do to keep students in the classroom.

Chronic absenteeism and poor academic outcomes have a clear link. When students miss school, they are more likely to fall behind academically or even drop out. And while research has been critical to identifying the link between academics and chronic absenteeism, the story doesn’t end there. How do you reduce chronic absenteeism? What are the signs of a student in danger of dropping out?

Before students drop out, they are chronically absent. Before they are chronically absent, they are chronically tardy. You can stop this vicious cycle at the start by prioritizing getting students to class on time and ready to learn — day after day, week after week.

What Are the Effects of Chronic Absenteeism?

Educators on the frontlines see all kinds of ways chronic absenteeism hurts school environments beyond academics. Absenteeism has cascading, negative effects across the board.

  • When chronically absent students do come back to school, without supports in place, they rarely escape the absenteeism cycle. When they do show up, there’s a pile of catch-up work waiting for them. Once behind, it’s difficult for students to make up that work, and they lose out on credits.
  • When chronically absent students don’t feel like they belong, there’s little incentive for them to return. Teachers can work to make each student feel included by building personal connections. Students need someone they can trust for school to become a place they want to be.
  • Chronic absenteeism negatively impacts the learning environment for the kids who are coming to class every day. Students who are routinely absent can disrupt other students when they do show up — either by draining learning time away from them or by not bothering to catch up at all.
  • Chronic absenteeism may mask deeper problems. Some students can’t go to school because economic realities of their family prevent them from attending. Others may be chronically ill but don’t provide medical notes. Getting to the root cause is essential to turning an absent student into a star pupil who shows up day after day.

How to Reduce Chronic Absenteeism: 4 Tips

Chronic absenteeism is a deeply complex issue, but for educators looking to make a difference, there are places they can start:

  1. Invest in creating strong student-teacher relationships. To increase a feeling of safety, comfort, and positive familiar relationships with adults, school and district leaders should invest in building up school climate and culture. A positive behavior reinforcement tool like SchoolMint Hero can increase positive interactions — the foundational building blocks to healthy relationships.
  2. Put a clear support system in place for when students do return. Don’t let them drown in work they need to catch up. Have a plan in place for how students return on par with their peers
  3. Don’t just think about attendance — actually #bethechange. Establish a proactive approach to combating absenteeism for the both the social-emotional and academic good of all students.
  4. Find at-risk students using behavior data. Even when transportation and the family unit are not obstacles, some students choose not to go to school. There are a multitude of reasons why a child chooses to do this, and the burden is on the administration to find out why. Often times, students stay away to avoid harassment, bullying, and unsafe conditions to and from school.

A systematic program that recognizes students positively for simply being on time and in class, ready to learn, has proven highly effective at changing student behavior. Reducing chronic absenteeism isn’t possible without accurate, easy-to-read school-wide tardy data. Get the data you need in one convenient digital container with Hero.

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