A chronically absent student is a student who misses ten percent or more of the school year for any reason, excused or unexcused. In the 2021-22 school year, San Francisco public schools report that a quarter of their students are chronically absent; This is a significant increase from the previous school years when only fifteen percent of students were chronically absent. But it’s not just students; compared to last year, 72% of public schools reported an increase in teachers being absent in 2021-2022 compared to 2020-21.
There are many possible reasons for this increase, but some experts at the school believe that the coronavirus pandemic may be a significant contributing factor. With schools closed for most of the year, many students have fallen behind in their studies and are struggling to catch up. Additionally, many families are dealing with unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety, making it difficult for children to attend school regularly.
Students can also have various reasons for their absences outside the pandemic. For example, according to Attendance Works, one of the main three reasons for students being absent comes from barriers, negative school experiences, and lack of engagement.
Whatever the reasons for this increase, it is clear that chronic absenteeism is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.
How Can Schools Combat Chronically Absent Students?
Schools can combat chronically absent students by implementing programs that address these common factors. Some of these programs include providing transportation assistance, increasing parental engagement, and increasing access to after school and summer programs.
Schools can also implement a system where they contact the parents of the individuals who are absent after a certain amount of days.
If teachers can’t contact the students, then schools can attempt to send administrators to their homes. Schools can also take chronically absent students’ issues to the school board and discuss funding on different plans to help families in the community. By addressing the underlying causes of chronic absenteeism, schools can help increase attendance rates and improve academic outcomes for all students.
How does S.F. Schools Plan to Handle Chronically Absent Students?
S.F. plans to continue its ongoing research campaign to focus on engaging and enriching its youth. S.F. public schools employ different strategies for combating chronically absent students, which include introducing independent study programs where students can pick their schedules and attend smaller classes. The district is also working on a policy of reaching out to chronically absent students and their families after they miss a certain number of days to ensure the family is okay.
S.F. public schools should ensure that new teacher hires are paid well and come from diverse backgrounds. Research shows that students respond positively to teachers of diverse backgrounds. Schools from other districts have seen improvement in adopting different methods to increase student attendance rates
Hutt from the UNC told the Examiner, “It doesn’t matter if we talk about new standards or higher quality teachers. If the students aren’t there to receive the benefits of what’s going on in the schools, then why even talk about anything else.”
Student Hires Programs
Student Hires hands-on experiential K-12 expanded learning programs led by college students that increase the career readiness of disadvantaged youth in our community. Our programs target chronically absent youth, who often lack the resources and support they need to succeed in school and eventually enter the workforce.
Our programs allow these students to gain valuable work experience, earn an income, and develop the skills and habits essential for success in the workplace. We also work with schools to help students, so they don’t become chronically absent. As a result, Student Hires programs are an essential step in ensuring that all young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
While the causes of chronic absenteeism are complex and multi-faceted, schools need to identify and address the issue early on. To do so, administrators and educators need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of chronic absence. What schools in your area deal with chronically absent students? Let us know in the comments below!