A new survey by researchers shows that secondary students don’t really know how many days they miss from school each year, or how their absence rate compares with their peers. When asked why they missed school, the students in grades 6-12 named health, transportation and personal stress-related issues as the top three reasons they don’t come to class.
The survey, Reasons for Chronic Absenteeism Among Secondary Students, by Amber Humm Brundage and Jose Castillo at the University of South Florida, points out that students, their families, educators and communities don’t fully understand how many absences can put a student at risk academically. In the fall of 2016, the team surveyed 5,790 chronically absent secondary students—missed 10 percent or more of days during 2015-16 school year—from eight states and 91 schools.
“It is nearly impossible for critical stakeholders (parents, students, school, community, state) to fix a problem if they do not know it exists!” said Brundage. “Our survey shows that engaging in clear and consistent messaging for the purposes of building awareness of typical and acceptable levels of absences, as well as current numbers of absences, is still very much needed in schools across the country,” she added.