Has Student Attendance Gotten Worse After COVID?

High student absenteeism, nearly 30%, affects socialization, grades, test scores, activities, graduation rates, and mental health. Post-pandemic recovery requires sustained efforts, as absenteeism risks lifelong impacts. Lakeside Programs focus on truancy, stressing attendance for academic and personal success.
Sad teen girl sitting on chair, pensive

One of the most important indicators of school success is daily attendance. It impacts socialization, grade point average, national test scores, extra-curricular activities, graduation rates and mental health.

In recent years student absenteeism rates have almost doubled. It is my understanding that in 2021/22 our national absenteeism rate was almost 30 percent. That is more than 1 out of 4 students being chronically absent from school!

A recent statement from the White House indicates some of the consequences of COVID to our students. It states the following:

Given the magnitude of test score declines and extent of chronic absenteeism, pandemic recovery efforts require an “all-hands-on-deck” response. While State-administered test scores from the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years show some early signs of rebounding from the major disruptions of the pandemic, estimates suggest the average elementary school student would need sufficient supports and instructional time to sustain additional gains for several years in order to reach the performance of comparable pre-COVID cohorts. Without such sustained investments, one group of researchers estimated that these disruptions could cost American students $2 trillion in lifetime earnings.

This level of absenteeism can have life-long impact that will limit those students with their future earnings and life capacity. Unfortunately, the indicators have not improved all that much in the past years so it is clear that we will continue to see many of our students struggle with attendance. There has been recent funding to schools to mitigate this problem and we are just beginning to monitor the attempts to connect students who are chronically absent back to their school.

Since Lakeside has been dealing with truancy for many years, our staff have become diligent about the important of attendance and how it relates to student success academically and personally. It is important that incentives be used to help students see the importance of attending school. If they are out of the habit of regularly attending school, it is difficult to re-institute a new regimen of attending without being very intentional in motivating them to change their attendance routines. Since COVID was a time where students were not physically attending school, the return to school attendance has become all the more difficult for a number of students.

Our school administrators, parents, teachers, police and students must now be more diligent to create connections to truant students so they will re-establish the habit of regular school attendance. It takes individuals who are contacting students individually and regularly to encourage them to attend school. Without that kind of attention this will be a much longer and more difficult process.

If we cannot overcome this significant set of issues, we will see negative consequences for years to come. Now that we are seeing this attendance deficit we need to be creative, actively work diligently and help our students move back towards their friends and teachers in their community schools.

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