West Street School has students in Kindergarten through 2nd grade. These are very important years of a student’s academic career because attendance at school during these years can indicate future success (or failure) throughout school and eventually, their careers. Research shows that going to school regularly in the early years is especially critical for children from families living in poverty, who are less likely to have the resources to help children make up for lost time in the classroom. Among poor children, chronic absence in kindergarten predicts the lowest levels of educational achievement at the end of fifth grade.
the terms describe different aspects of absenteeism problems and require different approaches to bringing students back to school every day. Truancy focuses on unexcused absences, leading to compliance with rules. Fixing the problem becomes a question of ensuring compliance often left to administrators and in severe cases, the legal system. Chronic absenteeism incorporates all absences: excused, unexcused, suspensions and even chronic tardiness. The focus is on the academic consequences of lost instructional time and preventing absences before students miss so much school that they fall behind and miss social and other opportunities afforded by attending school regularly. Because of their age, West Street students are unlikely to be absent without their parent/caregiver’s knowledge.
Absenteeism affects the entire school. If too many students are chronically absent, it slows down instruction for other students, who must wait while the teacher repeats material for absentee students. This makes it harder for students to learn and teachers to teach.
West Street School’s attendance initiative philosophy resembles this National Center for Children in Poverty’s graphic. We are working to educate and engage parents and students about the importance of attendance by doing things like: having teachers add attendance facts to newsletters, posting “My class had perfect attendance placards, marquee, FB, Attendance works stamps on email signatures, PAWS nights, flyers, attendance tid bits on the morning announcements, tabling at events. We offer incentives, run contests, have “we missed you” placards. Teachers communicate with families about absences., etc. We want to broaden awareness that missing extended periods of school could be an early sign of distress in school, community or at home that could respond to appropriate early intervention.
The concentration of that 17% of chronically absent students live on the Eastern side of Geneva, and in low or income based housing or were “homeless”. Attendance suffers when families are struggling to keep up with the routine of school despite the lack of reliable transportation, long work hours in poorly paid jobs that offer little flexibility, unstable and unaffordable housing, inadequate health care and escalating community violence. These are some of our barriers to good attendance.
It does take a village, to work with the family, to raise a child, and to help weather the storms of life. Life is easier when you are part of a network of friends and family, a neighborhood, a community.
west street elementary Presentation on Truancy / Absenteeism @ Success for Geneva's Children
Chronic absence does not just affect the
students who miss school.
44 students missed
20% or more of school
(severe chronic absence)
43 students missed
10-19% of school
(moderate chronic absence)
415 students missed 0-
9% of school
17 % of WSS
Given this broader focus, addressing chronic absenteeism becomes an
issue for the entire community.
*Medical providers can help address health challenges and promote regular
*Transit and housing agencies can help resolve other barriers to
attendance; volunteers from businesses and organizations can mentor students
and support families.
*Faith Leaders can encourage students in their congregations to attend school
regularly, encourage parishioners to serve as mentors, social ministry volunteers,
provide transportation to school and school events.
It takes a village to raise a child.
~Ancient African Proverb