Insane Absences and Tardies

June 28, 2007 at 9:09 pm | Posted in behavior, education, elementary, inner city | 3 Comments

I’m doing my report card and, as I already knew, found insane absences and tardies.  Out of 66 days of schools, three of my students missed more than 10 days of school, one of whom had 15 tardies.  This girl is one of the lowest scorer, academically speaking.  Her mother pretty much shut me out because I pushed her and her older daughter hard last year.  She, my current student, made a lot of progress this year, but is still lagging behind her peers.  One of my friend said, “Third graders don’t make decisions about going to school.  They do as they’re told.”  Yup.

A half of my students had five to nine absences with some tardies hitting the twenties.

I consider this a “symptom” of how difficult my class was this year.  I could be wrong, but in my five years of teaching, I noticed that, generally speaking, attendance is a good clue to class’s achievement and behavior.  Last year, half of my students earned perfect attendance for the year.  This year, two of my students earned good attendance certificates.  Last year was the mellowest class anyone can wish for.  This year, my class ran off a substitute (just two weeks ago in fact).  The substitute pushed them out the classroom door 15 minutes before the bell rang and headed for the parking lot.  Some of my fellow teachers were laughing about it.   I cringed.

Back to the report cards.



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  1. There is a correlation between grades and attendance in every grade. In high school, they make choices not to come to school & choices to cut. This affects their grades, but somehow my school district makes this “attendence” issue a teacher problem. In my year end conference, I was told to attack this problem next year by calling home, conferencing with the parents, using different teaching strategies that would make them want to come to class. If you have motivation strategies for attendance please share them with the rest of us!

  2. Attendance is not a teacher problem (well, as long as the teacher attends that is 🙂 ).

    In England I am glad to say we have tightened the whole attendance thing by devising a 17-week process that tackles very poor attenders. Briefly, it begins with a Head of Year’s referral to the school’s Educational Welfare Officer and then moves through a process of monitoring inexorably towards a prosecution of the parents unless there is improvement.

    I was sceptical when I first heard about this process but gradually the word got around the parents of our least attending kids and suddenly they were back in school. I’d like to think this might just give them a chance to realise how valuable education is.

    When I first started teaching in Yorkshire, I had two kids in my form group who I never saw once throughout their five years in secondary education. Well, that’s not quite true – I bumped into one of them once, working in a fairground that came to visit my town. I only recognised her because I had seen a photo from her primary school.

    Teachers can only do so much: we monitor; we record; and we refer. Beyond that, our role is to provide great lessons that students want to attend. The rest is a matter for the Education Authority.

    I think the fact that your class’ attendance is generally good speaks volumes CT.

  3. Clearly I don’t have strategies for motivating attendance! See my blog on the atrocious attendance my students had this year LOL! In elementary school, we do have some assistance with this issue. We have a PSA (don’t know what the acronym stands for) counselor who is in charge of attendance. She makes phone calls, write letters, home visits, holds parent meetings and then refers students to the District Attorney. Somewhere in there, the parents are threatened with jail time and upon occasions, have been brought to trial. The parents at our school generally don’t change their behavior until the meet the District Attorney in person, however, and that meeting is a long way down the process. My most absent students have marks on their attendance cards that tells me that they’re getting closer and closer to meeting with the DA.

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