Absenteeism within our education system is widely being considered a hidden national crisis. According to scholarly studies, America’s education system is based on the assumption that excluding illness or unexpected events, students maintain an acceptable rate of student attendance. Technology and digital records in today’s society, stretching from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade, provide the ability to study attendance patterns across school districts, communities, and all states. Unfortunately, many states and districts have failed to utilize this data to the best of its ability in order to improve student achievement. Because of the nation’s neglect within this issue, absenteeism can be compared to bacteria within a hospital; it can wreak havoc long before it is discovered.
Absenteeism vs. Truancy
Most schools only track truancy. While truancy is an important issue, it fails to capture the days lost through excused absences and student suspensions. By definition, chronic absence or absenteeism, is a student that missed 10 percent or more of the school year. Schools use data to calculate the average daily attendance, but this average fails to uncover the fact that many of our students are missing an average of 18 school days a year. This can have a plethora of negative affects on a student’s performance.
Declining Academic Achievement
Much has been written in regards to the correlation between high school student’s absenteeism and dropout rates. One thing that is for sure is the fact that it is an issue that starts early. Records show that 1 in 4 students who grow to be chronically absent into their high school years are more likely to drop out. Even our younger students are shown to have chronic absence rates as high as teenagers. Surveys show that “national estimates suggest that one in 10 kindergarten and first grade students misses 18 or more days of the school year, or nearly a month.” These missed days can ultimately lead to higher rates of retention, reading skills, and lower scores on standardized tests.