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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Excessive student attendance

Excessive student attendance

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I am usually not a complainer. Right now , I'm pretty livid. A friend and I were discussing NCLB's effect on the state of education today. As I thought about the term No Child Left Behind, I realized it should have been called No Child Left Behind (except if by parents). Last year, two of my students were absent for more than 30 days! In second grade. In first grade, as well. The pattern continues in third grade- each nearing 40 days! One could argue that these children have serious medical conditions. If that were the case, my school would do everything possible to get them whatever they needed. But, when you notice there are patterns in their absences; or when they rule the playground after being home for three days. Or, when you ask, in an authentically concerned tone, where were they or what happened, they say home sick. They often cannot elaborate about their illness. They certainly can tell you exactly what ails them in class when they need to go to the nurse. And if these children (non-readers) were legitimately ill for so many days, wouldn't you call the school in a panic asking for help? Or the teacher who has given you his cell phone number and told you to call anytime? Then when the child just manage to take the NYS assessments and fail, my school is accountable. How is that fair? If any of you know the laws about student attendance, please let me know. Thank you for letting me vent!

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Ken Cornett's picture
Ken Cornett
Retired: Grades 4 to 12, specializing in curriculum development

Good Luck, you have to give them a reason for coming to school. There may be recess issues, a social problem, classroom issues, talk to their parents and see where it might go from there. A law isn't going to change their behaviour pattern - maybe the work is too hard and they experience failure all the time, what can be done so they can acheive successes instead - Are they having fun at school or is it too much on achieving, are they being teased , or being bullied,

Sounds like a self-esteem situation maybe - lots of options, as a teacher one has to locate the problem and see if it can be resolved, but never give up.

Latanya's picture

As a kindergarten teacher, I see that this pattern of non-attendance begins early. Many parents keep their children at home for a host of non-illness related issues. Most of the issues are PARENT RELATED and not kid related. Sometimes children who have never been to school before have separation issues and the parents don't want to battle with them so they keep them at home. Sometimes parents think schools are drop-in baby sitting zones and they bring them when they have something important to do.

I have noticed that the this trend of non-attendance only occurs with non-working parents. Parents who need to get to work in the morning send their children to school even with the threat of a tsunami warning. We recently had one here in my city and our school is nowhere close to an ocean.

Sitting down with parents and having a frank talk about attendance usually does the trick in most cases. I recently had a talk with a parent who made regular excuses about her daughter's and niece's attendance. I simply asked her what she was planning to do about helping her niece succeed. She seemed stunned by the question so I asked again. I told her that during a recent SST I had agreed to work with her niece one-on-one to get her caught up but because she did would not keep her end of the bargain, I couldn't do my job properly. How can I teach her if her chair is empty. She got it. We now have an agreement, you get her here and I will teach her. I gave her my cell and she calls if there are any problems. It isn't perfect but it is close.

Hubert V. Yee's picture
Hubert V. Yee
social media and marketing manager of startup

I agree with Latanya! Teachers and parents need to stay in touch. It's a collaborative effort to ensure a student learns regardless of home issues. Once I had to meet with a parent to discuss their child's health issue to ensure the child was not being neglected at home. It's a relationship that can save/help a student. It's best to identify early in the year who you should build a strong relationship with to ensure communication between you and the parent. Good luck for the next year!

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