Attendance for Students in a Culture of Attention?
With traditional attendance rates at 20% to 50%, schools must work hard to ensure that each child has individualized attention. To achieve their goals, schools might set attendance goals based on an individual student’s sub-group for the first semester.
Teaching teachers know that attendance for different groups of students is largely driven by cultural differences. For example, students from rural areas are unlikely to have parents who work or whose presence in their classrooms might be checked regularly. Some schools have designed their practices to address cultural differences by increasing levels of individualized attention to the top-performing students.
New research supports the intention of such programs to provide students with personalized attention. Despite the fact that some students naturally attend more classes, teachers need to make efforts to make attendance a top priority. The need to observe attendance is a topic we will discuss later, as, for the time being, it may provide greater visibility to an unseen cultural divide.
The study researchers emphasized the need to provide individualized attention. This is especially critical for students from underserved backgrounds. Participants from schools that identified practices to address attendance were judged on how well they were able to monitor attendance.
Students also engaged in an ongoing feedback loop with the school during the first two weeks of school to request grades and hearing from other students about changes in their schools. Their responses also suggested how to identify the most effective practices for their subgroups.
This kind of report on attendance comes at a time when schools need to offer more opportunities for students to interact with peers and peers’ families outside of their classrooms. Previous research has shown that students in such settings are more likely to attend classes regularly.
Many students from communities of color experience limited social support from their families and may learn more at school. Thus, schools must be more supportive of parental involvement, including more parental involvement in the learning environment. Educators should provide the same opportunities for students to interact with families as they do students.
A team of family researchers also conducted focus groups to see how families could improve their involvement in their children’s education.
In short, schools need to recognize that attendance can be a form of learning. However, the schools that acknowledged attendance as a learning activity to focus on these ideas may end up noticing smaller cultural differences that can be overcome.
The authors of this report hope to continue to investigate attendance patterns for a variety of subgroups in addition to student demographics. As such, future research will inform teachers on what could be done to help their students improve their attendance.
Photo credit: Firstborn