As we gear up for the start of a brand new school year, I want to talk a little bit about an issue that is emerging as one of the most significant barriers and challenges to student success. I am talking about attendance and, more specifically, the impact that chronic absenteeism has on the ability of a student to access their education. In addition to developing College and Career Ready Skills and general good work habits; regular punctual attendance is vital for student success. Without regular attendance, students cannot demonstrate competency, earn course credit, or be successful in school.
At Somersworth High School we recognize the importance of student attendance. We also recognize that, for a variety of personal reasons and family circumstances, regular attendance is far more difficult for some students than it is for others. With that in mind, it is our goal to enforce attendance procedures that both holds students accountable and does not disenfranchise them from the school community. More specifically, we will be implementing new attendance protocols designed to keep kids invested in their own success, keep them engaged in the community, and ultimately, provide them with the best possible opportunity to be successful at Somersworth High School.
Of course, the natural consequence for not coming to school is not earning course credit. It is impossible for a teacher to gather enough evidence to make a claim that a student has demonstrated proficiency if that student is not regularly present in school. On the other hand, it is equally important that we do not mandate failure based on attendance; which only confirms for some students what they already believe-school is not the place for them.
Instead, an effective attendance policy must recognize chronic absenteeism for what it is: a behavioral issue, a family issue, and a community issue. With this in mind, our procedures will include an escalating series of interventions designed to combat excessive absenteeism from a perspective that is both systems oriented and solution focused. Such interventions will aim to address the underlying causes of the issue and emphasize supports and services from our truancy officer, counselors, social workers, and building administration. Our goal will always be to support our students by connecting them to our school community.
Ultimately, the only way to combat chronic absenteeism is by working together as a team-parent, staff, and community. We must make sure that, at all times, our students feel safe, welcomed, and connected.
I wish you a safe and happy end to your summer and look forward to seeing many of you in the fall!
Somersworth High School
Read More: Comprehensive Case Study by the Hanover Research Center
“Though prevalent across the country, discipline solutions for absenteeism do not encourage attendance. Instead, these punitive approaches create a disconnect between the student and his or her school, reducing the chances of future attendance. Effective policies aim to support positive adult‐student relationships and set high academic expectations.”