Today’s Go Local Worcester contains an article titled “The 25 Central MA Schools with Worst Chronic Absentee Problem”.
The article observes that “According to the statistics from the 2013-2014 school year from the Department of Secondary and Elementary Education, the districts across the state that have the worst chronic absenteeism issues are Fall River (31.7 percent of students are chronically absent), Holyoke (29.4), Southbridge (27.8) and Boston (24.7).”
Chronic absenteeism refers to students that miss 10% or more of the school year.
It ranks the worst schools for chronic absenteeism in Central Massachusetts. In that report Southbridge Middle/High School ranked second in the region with a rate of 34%.
While it lists Fitchburg as number one in the region with a 36.6% rate, the State figures show that this is exceeded by Eastford Road School with a rate of 37.7%.
The article lists four areas that contribute to this problem:
- Individual: school phobia, learning disabilities, poor school attachments, behavior problems, perceived or real lack of safety, boredom/indifference in class, lagging schoolwork, need for employment;
- Family: low family income, single-parent status, child maltreatment, parental disabilities, lack of parental involvement in education, family mobility, family care responsibilities;
- District/School: district/school attendance policies, diverse student learning styles that make individualized instruction challenging , relationships between students/families and teachers; and
- Community: high levels of family mobility, violence, child maltreatment, crime, drug abuse, and unemployment.
The consequences of this problem were addressed by Worcester School Committee member John Monfredo, who said “Research shows that improving student attendance is an essential, cost-effective but often overlooked strategy for ensuring our students are on track to learn and succeed. Chronic absence is a leading early warning indicator of academic trouble and later the student may become a dropout statistic. The data shows that truancy and chronic absenteeism can be precursors to school drop-outs, academic failure, and juvenile delinquency.”