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Ensure Students Attend School

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Principle Recommendation

School attendance should be part of the State Board of Education’s school accountability framework, with attendance goals for each school and district.[i] School districts should be required to meet attendance goals. If they cannot, they should develop corrective action plans reviewed by the State Board of Education.

Current Connecticut Statute

Connecticut’s statutory interventions differ based on whether students are chronically absent or truant.[ii] Connecticut defines students who are “chronically absent” as those children who miss 18 days or more than 10% of their school year.

The State Department of Education suggests a tiered set of interventions based on the severity of the absence problem.[iii]

However, students can’t get a public school education if they don’t attend school. Therefore, the state should more aggressively monitor attendance.

Supporting Research

Regardless of age, racial, or ethic group, children who do not attend school regularly do worse on the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) than their peers who attend school more frequently.[iv]  

In Connecticut, 11% of students miss more than 10% of school days and are considered to be chronically absent.[v] Subgroups of CT students are disproportionately absent from school.[vi][vii] Additionally, most of the Alliance District communities have high levels of chronic absenteeism.

New Britain has made school attendance a priority. The school district used a menu of programs to address this problem and reduced its chronic absenteeism rate from 27% in FY 2011-12 to 19% in FY 2013-14.[viii] For example, the district identified students who were missing school, and called the students’ parents to emphasize parental responsibility and the importance of students’ attendance.[ix]

Sources

[i] From: Connecticut Consortium on School Attendance, Recommendations for Improving School Attendance in Connecticut, A Project of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee June 2009. Retrieved from here.  
[ii] The State Department of Education suggests interventions based on an SRBI model, with the most intensive interventions reserved for the few who are most truant. Guidelines for Implementation of the Definitions of Excused and Unexcused Absences and Best Practices for Absence Prevention and Intervention April 2013,
Connecticut State Department of Education, retrieved here. C.G.S. 10-200 allows towns to appoint attendance officers who can charge parents for picking up their truant children. Truant students can be referred to the Judicial Department to “Families with Service Needs” program which tries to work with the families to solve truancy issue which is guided by various statutory provisions including C.G.S. 10-198a and C.G.S. 46b-120.
[iii] SDE Guidelines for  Implementation of the Definitions of Excused and Unexcused Absences and Best Practices for Absence Prevention and Intervention.
[iv] Absences Add Up: How School Attendance Influences Student Success; Alan Ginsburg, Phyllis Jordan and Hedy Chang, August 2014. Retrieved from here
[v] CHRONIC ABSENTEEISM: A CLOSER LOOK AT CONNECTICUT DATA, CT State Department of Education, Ajit Gopalakrishnan, Chief, January, 2014. Retrieved from here.
[vi] Ibid. Low-income children are 3 times more likely to be chronically absent; African-American students and Hispanic students are twice as likely to be chronically absent; Students who attend school more achieve more and are more likely to graduate than their chronically absent peers (even among subgroups).
[viii] Data from the State Department of Education presentation to the SBOE Legislative and Policy Committee on November 5, 2014.
[ix] Truancy Efforts Paying Off In New Britain Elementary Schools, Alex Putterman, the Hartford Courant, July 18, 2014, retrieved from here.