Research shows that school attendance positively correlates with academic performance, but the opposite is also true. Absences are often the greatest single cause of a student’s poor academic achievement.
While this fact makes perfect sense, we should pause to reflect on why:
- Gaps in Continuous Learning: Learning in the classroom is designed to be a continuous, progressive group activity, where each day’s lessons build upon prior lessons and simultaneously set the foundation for future lessons. Absences interrupt this iterative process, accelerating and exacerbating learning discrepancies, and piercing holes into a student’s grasp of the material. These gaps in learning are difficult to backfill, for both teachers and students.
- The Domino Effect: While students grapple with the mental and logistical consequences of missed lessons and class time, overwhelmed feelings fester. These students begin to face challenges not only with time management, but also in maintaining confidence and readiness to keep up with new material. This can lead to dire consequences: assignments go incomplete, grades begin to drop, absences add up, and ultimately, motivation to stay in school drastically declines.
What teachers and parents can do to make attendance a priority:
Teachers: Communicate with parents about why student attendance matters. Let parents know that each day’s learning is essential in order for their child to progress. A collaborative approach will reinforce why each and every minute of school is so important to their child’s future.
Amelia Waliany is a Community Specialist at Kinvolved. She previously worked in the Division of Teaching & Learning at the NYC Department of Education, where she managed the implementation of Common Core aligned curriculum materials across the city’s schools. She received her J.D. from Hofstra Law School, where she represented children in abuse, neglect and immigration cases. Before attending law school, Amelia received her BA in Psychology with a Minor in Social Work from New York University. In her free time, she enjoys distance running and making ceramics. Email Amelia at: firstname.lastname@example.org.