Low Attendance Rates – Why don’t students come to school?

Low attendance rates, which affect school funding, can be caused by a variety of things:

1.  An unhealthy climate characterized by poor relationships between teachers and students.

2.  The lack of enforcement of truancy laws.

3.  Students who fall behind do not come to school because they are afraid they cannot catch up.

4.  Coursework may not be challenging enough and students have become bored.

5.  Students who are excluded from school because of school infractions.

6.  Illness.

7.  The need to take care of a younger sibling so that a parent can go to work.  The need to take care of a ill family member.

8.  The need for a student to go to work to help support a family.

In Virginia, it was found that “less than 18% of punitive school exclusions” were in response to serious infractions such as those involving drugs and alcohol, fighting and assault, weapons, threats and theft. In New York City, 20% or one-fifth of all elementary school students are absent more than one month of the school year.  The number in high schools is far worse; 40% of all students miss a month or more of school.  In middle schools, the number is 24% missing a month or more of school.

It is ironic that in many schools, the punishment for not coming to school – truancy – is school suspension.

Before teachers, counselors and school administrators react to student absence, they need to identify the cause and then use appropriate remedies depending on the cause.