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The Problem of Chronic Student Absenteeism and Ways to Deal with It

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Schools in California, such as Cerritos High School, have a major issue regarding chronic student absences at an insane rate of 10 to 15% among all schools, and such issues have a two-fold impacting the school itself and the student’s ability to learn. Not all absences are bad, however, students mostly have valid reasons, but those with chronic absences (like skipping school) are just missing out improving their education. Education isn’t a privilege, rather it is a necessity that makes them smarter people; therefore, if one doesn’t take it seriously, then they are only hurting themselves. If these actions continue, then it will haunt them because this behavior will repeat itself when they go to college, and later, work.

This problem doesn’t fully lay within the students, a school also needs to take the time and explain to students from a young age what it means to come to school because school is where kids, like me, come to learn and get exposed to new ideas and livelihoods that we cannot find at home. School’s must find out a way to combat this issue because if it lingers it will be harmful to them and to students. For example, a United Federation of Teachers graphic shows that if students, at an early age, miss time then their reading levels are lower than those who don’t miss time. Chronic absences can be combated, but schools and students must take action before it gets out of control.

One way to combat the issue is through explaining to students. Personally, I go to a public high school and I do see students who miss extended amounts of time for no apparent reason. When these students come back they have fallen behind and, as a result, no longer show a passion to keep learning, granted this was a problem they created, but that doesn’t excuse the fact they must also learn and be entitled to the same education as their peers. Our school tries to take steps to reduce the absences through programs such as encouraging classrooms to have full attendance for five days to receive a reward for donuts. Nevertheless, I doubt this will have the intended effect. A better approach would be to take these chronically absent students in an after-school session or a parent-teacher conference and explain why students should strive to be at school as many days as possible. New Jersey’s Department of Education outlined such an idea: “Launch a schoolwide Attendance Campaign for all families during the first 30 days of school. Include a kickoff event with a parent speaker, a catchy slogan, and branded items distributed to students and caregivers (pencils, pens, notepads, noisemakers, etc.)”. By educating students and parents, both sides are more aware of the impact chronic absenteeism will have on the school and other students, as well as the chronically absent student. In all, educating students and parents will have a great impact on reducing chronic absenteeism.

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Another idea would be for schools to be stricter and not allow students any leniency to make up continuous absences. To determine when the school should take strict absence depends on if the student has missed more than 7 days in a row without checking in with the school. When this happens then the school should mark it down as truancy and immediately notify parents or guardians. Moreover, the classrooms must not allow students to make up any of the work they missed and give them zeros on the assignments and tests. Although this seems harsh, taking this approach shows a zero-tolerance stance taken up by the district and school strikes a sense of fear into the students and at least indicates they should attend school more. The California Board of Education takes a stricter stance, if a student misses more than 30 minutes then they shall receive truancy immediately and their parents or guardians must be informed. They go on to say that if it continues then the school need to hold a conference with the student and his or her parents. The only shortcoming is how harsh and how long it takes before they make that truancy decision. However, this idea can be improved and created similar to the one mentioned initially because the CA Board has the right idea but, again, was too strict in how soon it was enforced. Therefore, schools should take a stricter approach in how they give out truancies because it may lead to more students trying to come to school on time or at least not miss school as often.

Although schools should be strict and should approach with zero tolerance, they should listen to families that have problems then the school finds or create a way to fix the situation. David Kopperud, chair of the state Student Attendance Review Board, says that focusing on chronic absenteeism is “less judgemental because now you’re looking at absence for any reason”. Which is why a proposed solution that was put forth by in which they state that schools should create a much more friendlier climate for students to attend or to approach someone to explain their situation (through psychologists, nurses, and counselors), takes schools and school districts should consider. Kopperud agrees with this idea, he says that finding out what is causing, and why, these absences are occurring, so the schools can help avoid these problems from repeating. By introducing these people, or increasing the staff numbers of counselors, psychologists, nurses, will help lower the high rates of absentees. The California Board of Education says to refer these absent students to these people as frequently as possible to help the school and the student understand why this problem is recurring. A student’s mental, emotional, and physical health is more important than any punishment a school could give to combat this terrible issue.

Thus, schools must do its due diligence before it can come to a conclusion and then proceed to give out the punishments accordingly. In conclusion, schools in California need to understand why students are missing so much time, but they must propose ideas and programs to help enforce and lower this chronic absence number. By doing this it may help our schools improve and increase graduation rates. Education is important and chronic absences shouldn’t stand in the way of that.

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The Problem of Chronic Student Absenteeism and Ways to Deal with It. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from
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