There are many studies conducted by university researchers and professors who pinpoint the negative effect run-down schools have on low test scores and absenteeism in students in the United States. A study conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that dilapidated schools were a big contributor to low scores and absenteeism in schools. Broken windows, classrooms with no green views, dirty bathrooms, or windowless classrooms were found to be a major cause for truancy which in turn plays a major role in students’ low scores. Not every school has the budget nor the space to have green spaces around the school, but having broken windows, plaster, or ceiling tiles falling on the students is a major safety concern and a big cause for students to be absent from school.
What is a Chronically Absent Student?
A chronically absent student is a student that misses more than 18 days-excused or unexcused-of school in a year.
The Myths of Chronic Absenteeism
According to the National Forum on Education Statistics, there are 4 myths about chronic absenteeism we need to be aware of, if we want to find a meaningful solution to the problem.
- There is a perception among parents that a missed school day once in a while doesn’t reflect badly on a student’s performance.
- Unexcused absences are the only ones that are a problem. It is Ok if they are excused.
- Pre-K and Kindergarten are more like a daycare, therefore absences are not that important during those years.
- Attendance is only important in later grades.
How many times a year are our children missing school? Every day, teachers cover material that will not be reviewed later in the year. If your child is missing school because of an illness, they are missing material that perhaps they will need to know for a test. Grades do matter for the school. If your child is missing school, their performance can be hurt by their absenteeism.
Why attendance is Important
- A student that consistently misses school is more likely to drop out of high school and/or never attend college.
- Missed opportunities. If a student is consistently absent from school, gaps in learning will make it more difficult for them to graduate and/or to achieve the levels of education they are capable of achieving.
- The social interaction students achieve by attending school daily can make them form bonds with their peers, increasing the likelihood they will attend school regularly.
- Graduation becomes more difficult as the school administration’s punishment for missing school makes it harder for students to acquire the credits they need for graduation.
- Absenteeism can become a habit from kindergarten, and the ill outcomes a child experiences due to absenteeism can be felt as early as first grade.
What Contributes to Poor Academic Performance?
The roots of poor academic performance are as varied as the student body of many schools in the United States. From dilapidated schools, absenteeism, disabilities, lack of proficiency in the English language, unengaged teachers, and/or homelessness, the causes for poor performance can be one or many of these causes.
The physical state of the school matters. As stated earlier, the research about the effect dilapidated schools have on students’ performance is clear. The broken windows, broken bathrooms, and loose plaster on the walls negatively affect students’ performance. Furthermore, safety in school matters. According to the 2017 School Crime Supplement, students that experienced a hate-related word directed to them felt more fear attending school than those students that did not which led them to avoid school, stay home, or skip classes altogether.
What is a Hate Word?
According to The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES),
Hate-related words are having to do with one’s race, ethnic background, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability. For many students who are recipients of hate words or bullying, absenteeism is an easy choice to make. If teachers and school administrators do not take steps to ensure the safety of all students, absenteeism will be a problem affecting students and students’ performance perpetually.
Regardless of the level of vigilance from school Administrators and teachers, bullying and hate words directed at specific students are still prevalent in many schools. It is impossible to detect the gravity of hate words being used, or the specific bullying some of these students experience unless the school’s administration takes steps to find out such information.