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Chronic Absenteeism

…a student who has missed 10 per cent

(about 18 days) or more of the school year or in
the previous year missed a month or more of
school for any reason.
What do we know?
What we know…
• An attendance issue is often a first indicator
that a student is having other challenges.
What we know…
• Need to attend:
– regular classes;
– online;
– blended programs;
– home education;
– off campus courses; and
– dual credit, etc.
What we know…
• The student has to be attending to benefit
from interventions.
What we know…
• Absenteeism is a stronger predictor of
drop out rates than suspensions, test
scores, or students who have been
Why are students not attending?
Can’t attend
• illness;
• injury;
• family responsibilities;
• housing instability;
• the need to work; or
• involvement with the juvenile justice
Won’t attend
• avoid bullying;
• unsafe conditions;
• harassment;
• real or perceived embarrassment resulting
from learning difficulties;
• social awkwardness; or
• something as simple as the sanctions
imposed on them if the arrive late.
Don’t attend
• do not see the value in education;
• something else they would rather do; or
• nothing stops them from being absent.
Every Student Counts Project
• Sense of belonging.
• Want an adult to:
– care about them;
– connect with them;
– help them resolve issues; and
– help them with their learning.

• They want to be valued.

What can we do?
• All students.
• Communicate clear expectations about the
importance of regular attendance.
• Early intervention for students with
attendance issues.
• A small number of students that require
intensive, individualized supports and
Five Strategic Areas
1. Evaluating – Tracking Progress
2. Ensuring – Student Engagement
3. Increasing – Successful Transitions
4. Promoting – Positive Connections
5. Creating – Collaborative Partnerships
Tracking Progress
• Good understanding and a clear process
to analyze:
– district;
– school;
– classroom; and
– individual student attendance data.
Questions to consider
• How is school/classroom attendance data monitored and
• How do our attendance policies ensure students at risk
of chronically absenteeism are identified early?
• How is our student records system used to track and
monitor attendance data?
• How many students in the school are chronically absent?
How are attendance rates shared with the school and
• What universal, targeted and specialized supports are in
place to ensure attendance rates are maximized?
Student Engagement
• School Structure
• School Culture
• School Pedagogy
• School Leadership
School Structure
• flexible schedules;
• year-round calendars;
• modified timetables;
• dual credit;
• off campus programming; and
• online courses, etc.
School Culture
• Values, beliefs and shared meaning of all
• Elements include:
– student voice;
– engagement; and
– welcoming, caring, respectful and safe
learning environments.
School Pedagogy
• Styles and methods of instruction
– grading practices;
– assessment; and
– instructional strategies.
School Leadership
• improving classroom practice;
• informing school policies; and
• making connections beyond the walls of
the school building.
Questions to consider
• How are students with attendance issues helped to feel a sense of
belonging in school?
• Which extra curricular clubs or program are students with attendance issues
• How are students consulted about their challenges, interests and
• How are students/families involved in creating attendance plans?
• Which assessment strategies are used to create opportunities for student to
explore and demonstrate learning in ways that are meaningful to them?
• Which alternative programs and/or schedules have been discussed or
implemented to encourage school attendance and engagement?
• What types of projects or other learning activity does the student initiate?
Successful Transitions
• Changes to:
– relationships;
– routines;
– expectations; or
– roles.
Key transitions
• kindergarten or first grade;
• elementary to middle/junior high;
• junior high to high school;
• Grade 12; and
• new school/community.
Transition Strategies
• Collaboration with:
– parents/caregivers;
– employers;
– community agencies; and
– post secondary institutions to develop
transition strategies that are comprehensive.
Support students
• from home-to-school;
• between schools, programs, and/or grade levels;
• moving from within or outside the
community/country; and
• when leaving high school for post-secondary
education or employment.
Questions to consider
• How are staff and parents made aware of transitions
• What consistent processes are in place at the school level
and jurisdiction level to support student transitions?
• Which area of transitioning is an issue for our students with
attendance issues?
• Which personnel at both the sending and receiving learning
environment are communicating about how to best support
the students with attendance issues during transitions?
• How is the communication facilitated?
• What are the issues between the two learning environments
that support or impede transitioning for students with
attendance issues?
Collaborative Partnerships
• Shared leadership
• Community expertise
Why the student is absent
• food;
• shelter;
• mental/physical health;
• geographic location; or
• other challenges.
Rates of chronic absenteeism

• Consistently higher among:

– economically disadvantaged students; and
– those in special education classes.
Comprehensive Partnerships

• School, family and community

• Higher level of:
– parent involvement; and
– students passing standardized achievement
• Reduced disciplinary actions
Questions to consider
• Who has the jurisdiction/school developed formal partnerships with
to assist us in supporting students?
• What student centred, family centred, school centred, community
centred activities are in place to promote attendance?
• How has collaboration become a core value in the school, home and
• How are students with attendance issues being supported by our
community partners?
• How has the school facilitated collaborative relationships with
parents and service providers?
• How do the parents and service providers ensure students with
attendance issues are attending school? What is the role of the
school in this plan?
Positive Connections
• Intervention of specialized personnel such
– mentorship programs;
– career counselling;
– school liaison work;
– student engagement projects;
– resource offices; or
– community agencies.
Most successful strategies
• Communicating with families about
• Celebrating good attendance with students
and families.
• Community mentors.
• Attendance activities.
Positive Connections with Families
1. Parenting programs
2. Clear and consistent communication
3. Volunteer opportunities
4. Learning at home
5. Involvement in decision-making
6. Collaborating with the community
Key Connection Strategies
• Workshops for parents about:
– getting children to school;
– making home visits; and
– using contracts to commit parents to getting
their children to school.
Key Connection Strategies
• Communication practices:
– conducting parent orientations to explain school
expectations and policies regarding student
– sending home newsletters listing the names of
students with excellent attendance;
– giving families information about how to contact
the school; and
– providing access to children’s attendance
information on the internet.
Key Connection Strategies
• Volunteering
– in class;
– on field trips;
– in the office or library;
– during events;
– sharing expertise; and
– providing off campus programming.
Key Connection Strategies
• Collaborating
– bringing in speakers to talk about the
importance of completing school; and
– connecting chronically absent students with a
community mentor.
Questions to consider
• How long have students with attendance issues been involved
with a formal or informal mentorship program in the school or
• How have the students with attendance issues responded to
• Who is the significant adult in the school or community who
can provide unconditional support for these students?
• How has the school included liaison workers, resource
officers or other personnel who use specialized engagement
projects/activities to increase student attendance?
• How do we make positive connections with parents as
individuals, as a school and as a district?
Make the
attendance connection