SUMMARY: Does missing a bit of school here and there matter?

3622883554_Sam_YES_xlarge Research conducted in Western Australia (2013) shows that academic achievement declines for every day of absence – so that every day counts and there is no ‘safe’ level of absence.

Students who are disadvantaged are particularly affected by having unauthorised “days off”. Obviously, this is just one factor that affects student achievement. The quality of students’ teachers and the learning experiences that they provide are the most influential factors.

Attendance Sheet ca. 2001

Attendance Sheet ca. 2001

The report by the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, found 6 key findings:

* Children have highly stable attendance throughout the primary years. Attendance rates fall in secondary school.

* Disparities in attendance rates are evident from Year 1. They are carried into, and become wider, in secondary school.

* Attendance matters for achievement, and every day counts.

* Unauthorised absences are more strongly associated with achievement than authorised absences.

* Some students are more adversely affected by absence than others (depending on where students live, their socio-economic status, mobility etc).

* Most achievement disparities are in place at the outset of Year 3. Improving the attendance of disadvantaged students may help to reduce these, or prevent the gaps from becoming wider.

The question needs to be asked: why are children missing school?

Some suggestions by the research to help combat absences:

-> Initiatives aimed at improving attendance need to start early.

-> Encourage parental awareness of the importance of attending school.

-> Reducing unauthorised absences should be the key focus of attendance strategies.

-> Attendance strategies focused on disadvantaged students would yield benefits to achievement.

-> Encourage parents and provide support through schools to help students catch up after missing school.

Educators cannot do this alone: The community needs to be included.

References: www.childhealthresearch.org.au – Student Attendance and Educational Outcomes: Every Day Counts.

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