Miss a day and you miss a lot! This is true if you are a student of any age but especially for students who attend K-12 schools. Missing school interrupts a student's ability to keep up with classwork and receive the best education. And there can be serious consequences of school absences for students and their parents/guardians.
In 2016, Ohio House Bill 410 was adopted which focuses on tardiness and absences. Absenteeism is measured in hours not days and students are considered Excessively Absent if they miss 38 hours in one month or 65 or more hours in a school year with or without a legitimate excuse.
A student is a Habitual truant if they have been absent without legitimate excuse for:
● 30 or more consecutive hours (5 consecutive days), 40 consecutive periods or 42 or more hours in a school month, or 56 consecutive periods per month (7 days)
● 72 or more hours in a year (12 days), or 90 periods or more per year
Once a student’s absences add up to the habitual truancy level, the school social worker is required to place the student on an Attendance Intervention Plan (AIP). The AIP is an individualized plan to address the student’s barriers to attendance. Together, the school social worker, the parents/guardians, and the student identify the supportive services that could improve the student’s attendance. The AIP is implemented for 2 months. If the student’s attendance does not improve within this 60 day period, a truancy case must be filed. This process is no fun for anyone and can become a serious problem for students and their parents/guardians.
The Ohio Board of Education expects and tracks improvement of student attendance for every public school district in Ohio. This annual measurement called the Chronic Absenteeism Improvement Indicator requires each Ohio school districts to improve attendance rates by 1.1% compared to the prior year with a goal of 100% percent attendance.
This information and more can be found at this link https://tinyurl.com/ycx4dp3p to a 2018 report prepared by the Supreme Court of Ohio Dispute Resolution Section, the Supreme Court Commission on Dispute Resolution and the Ohio Department of Education. The report is OHIO SUPPORTS ATTENDANCE: A Community Collaboration of the Supreme Court of Ohio & the Ohio Department of Education School Attendance TOOLKIT.
Each child is different and their reasons for missing school are varied. Here are six recommendations for parents and students to follow to increase school attendance:
● Make staying home boring. Health.Harvard.edu shares that taking away screens and Wi-Fi access and collecting schoolwork handouts when your child does not want to go to school can make them think staying home is boring.
● Step in quickly. “Missed schoolwork and social experiences snowball, making school avoidance a problem that grows larger and more difficult to control as it rolls along.” (Health.Harvard.edu at this link https://tinyurl.com/yckp47d3)
● Add attendance notifications to your child’s Infinite Campus account so you know if your child was marked absent from any class and you can clarify any attendance issues immediately.
● When school is in session, avoid extended family trips and non-urgent medical appointments. Even if they are excused, these missed hours still count as lost instruction time and absences by the Ohio Department of Education.
● If your child seems bored or anxious about school, talk to teachers and school counselors for advice on how to make them feel more comfortable and excited about being at school.
● Ask for help when you need it. School staff, after-school program providers, and other parents or community agencies are available to help families. Check out Attendance Works’ ideas at this link https://tinyurl.com/bddm5nef .
Attendance in school affects everyone involved. The students, parents, and the school social workers have to work together to maximize students’ attendance or face the serious consequences of learning loss and truancy court.