The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

NEWS: School District Addresses Chronic Absenteeism

District school board members to hear report on truancy and chronic absenteeism in students tonight
Mallory Thompson
One approach that Free State’s administration has taken to encourage better attendance among students is to turn it into a competition between the grade levels.

Tonight, the Lawrence school board will hear a report created to inform members on truancy and chronic absenteeism, along with potential solutions to these issues.

According to the Unified Insights, any student with less than 90% attendance is defined as chronically absent. 39% of all high schoolers are chronically absent, and 49% of seniors face chronic absenteeism yearly.

Additionally, the report explains that COVID-19 has heightened student absences. School social worker Meg Lyles said she believes the pandemic has played into many unaddressed mental health issues that many students have not fully bounced back from.

Furthermore, Lyles explained how she believes a leading factor of absences often begins at mental health; she said she sees students express disconnect to the school, or not seeing a point at attending class.

“It’s really hard to do your work if you’re not here… the more students are not here, the more difficult it is to return,” Lyles said. “You don’t come to school, so you start to feel more anxious because it piles up… it can be a big snowball effect.”

As the school year begins, teachers, administration, and students have noticed more and more empty seats in classrooms as students continue to miss school. (Mallory Thompson)

According to the report, students can face negative effects when missing class such as missing instruction, increased workload and overall decreased achievement. It goes on to explain five pillars of common strategies to utilize when attempting to increase attendance: Engage, recognize, provide, monitor and develop.

The report explains the goal the district has to provide all students in monitoring absences: to help students reach their highest potential, graduate from high school and to enter post-secondary pathways.

To achieve this goal, the district will present possible intervention tactics and a plan for students facing truancy. A student is “truant” if they are absent without excuse for over half the day, for three consecutive days, five days in a semester or seven in a year.

View the full agenda on BoardDocs here. The meeting will take place tonight at 6 p.m. at the district office.

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