Guardians are indifferent towards their offspring’s persistent school absenteeism. Here’s the reason it must be a top concern.

Numerous reports have been made through ample coverage over recent months concerning the increase in student absences in American schools since the emergence of COVID-19. The most fresh national figures reveal that almost 26% of public school pupils were frequently absent in 2023 — a significant jump from 15% before the pandemic.

However, based on a recent NPR/Ipsos survey, the majority of guardians remain apathetic or even unacquainted with the perpetual absentness issue, which educational specialists signal as a grave underpinning of heightened dropout frequencies and exponential learning setbacks.

The survey canvassed parents of school-age progeny and the broader public on various K-12 educational concerns. Per the NPR’s report published Monday, merely 5% of parents and the public denominated chronic absenteeism as a pressing problem. Only approximately a third of the parent respondents could accurately pinpoint the definition, according to NPR.

Here’s the understanding experts recommend parents should have regarding perpetual absenteeism and its effects on their children’s scholastic journey.

📚 What is chronic absenteeism?

Perennial absenteeism is when a learner foregoes no less than 10% of school days in an academic year, regardless of whether those absences are excused. The standard average K-12 school year in the U.S. spans 180 days, with variation across different states. Thus, even a couple of missed school days monthly can render a student habitually absent.

🧑‍🎓 How does chronic absenteeism influence students?

Frequent absences affect learners — and families at large — in multiple ways. In particular states, absences above a certain threshold can trigger a truancy case. The truancy judicial system could compel the student to undertake community service, incur a penalty, or face suspension of their license.

Guardians of truant offspring might confront fines themselves and can be deemed criminally responsible if they fail to ensure their children attend school.

Beyond the legal framework, skipping school consistently — particularly in the formative years — can lead to children lagging in literacy. Since 2020, parallel to the ascent in habitual absenteeism, mathematics and literacy evaluations also began to wane.

This dilemma impacts learners across all levels of education, but it is most commonly observed amongst high school students, who tend to be frequently absent, as mentioned by the U.S. Department of Education.

🏫 Why are guardians not deeply troubled by chronic absenteeism?

The NPR/Ipsos survey indicates that the predominant worry for parents is to ascertain that their progeny is primed for what lies ahead, with bullying and firearms violence also ranking high in concern.

“An observable rationale here that matches factual evidence is that throughout the health crisis many offspring and their guardians started to question the importance of steady school presence,” Thomas Dee, a scholar of education at Stanford, expressed to NPR.

🧑‍🧒 What measures can parents take to aid their children?

Mallory Newall, executive vice president at Ipsos, mentioned that engaging parents in the issue of perpetual absenteeism could be achieved by appealing to their concerns about their children’s future prospects.

“To aptly ready students for forthcoming challenges, it’s critical that they are present in class,” Newall commented to NPR. “I reckon this could forge a potent and essential connection for guardians that they might not have fully realized just yet.”

Understood, a charity that provides resources and specialist counsel for individuals with learning discrepancies, proffers strategies for decreasing absenteeism, particularly for those scholars who might be deliberately skipping school. Their advice covers initiating dialogue with the child, arranging for assessments to uncover underlying issues, and working in tandem with schools and other support agencies.

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