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The relationship between student’s attendance and achievement in public schools has become a drawn out issue. Among different studies by scholars, policymakers, specialists, and parents the outcome has been determined there is a positive correlation between school attendance and academics. This group study has evaluated that the number of days students attended school improved their learning. Research has determine, lack of attendance not only affected individual students academically, but also affected the learning environment of the entire school. Reducing the rates of student truancy and chronic absenteeism has been and continues to be a goal of many schools and school systems. Despite the long history of concern over student attendance, the issue has received relatively little attention from educational researchers. If schools can improve the truancy of students, then education will begin to gain academically. It is deem, the more students are between the four walls of the classroom, the better prepared they will become and achievement levels will begin to show improvement.
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The issue of poor school attendance has been a serious concern for many years. The correlation between attendance and achievement has policy makers and researchers questioning the efficacy of family involvement. According to Sheldon 2007, analyses showed when schools worked to implement the concerns of the school with families, and community partnerships, student attendance improved an average of 5%, whereas in comparison to schools that did not implement such strategy, rates of student attendance declined slightly from one year to the next (Sheldon, 2007). In respect of this declination, the present education climate, policy makers have placed a heavy emphasis on getting more children to stay in school in order to pass or score proficiently on standardized tests. This major push was attributed to the federal (NCLB), No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The importance of this act has placed heavy sanctions on schools with chronic student failure and poor achievement test results. The significance of this act holds school accountable for high levels of student attendance (Sheldon, 2007). The NCLB placed a rigorous implementation on student achievement and individual school’s accountability. Given the major push for academic success, the focus should be redirected more heavily on attendance, mobility, socio economic status and educators in order to improve student achievement (Sheldon, 2007).
How Truancy Factors Measure up to Achievement
According to Sheppard, 2007, the issue on truancy can best be defined as any unexcused or undocumented absence from school taking into account the attendance rules of the state. Every state has their own set of rules regarding the attendance. These rules are designed to determine the age at which a child is required to start school, the age at which a child may officially finish school and the reasons that might be invoked for any excused absence from school (Sheppard, 2007). The true factors on truancy is the evidence of students performing poorly on tests, in the classroom and not completely prepared for real life situations. One of the obvious reasons for the lack of cleared results in the fight against truancy was the complexed phenomenon, occurring as a result of interplay between various determining characteristics of the family structure and the priority placed on education within the home (Sheppard, 2007).
In light of evidence research identified three kinds of factors that contributed to truancy. Currently these factors can be situated at the individual, the family, and the school level of concern. In reasoning on the individual level, it has been established that truants are characterized by lower levels of academic self-esteem (p.267). The family level suggested pupils who are often absent tend to display signs of academic anxiety, sometimes even leading to symptoms of neuroticism. On the school level, truancy was most endemic at the age 15, and in general, the problem was more prevalent among boys than among girls, and proved an impossible accuracy task (Sheppard, 2007).
According to Anne Sheppard, 2009, poor school attendance and low achievement tended to occur because of parental variables such as low socio-economic status, conflict, neglect, criminal record and mental illness. However, although research has shown that pupils from poorer socio-economic backgrounds had less positive attitudes towards school and learning and lower levels of academic self-concept than their more advanced peers (Sheppard, 2009). It seems that the poorer economical the family structure, the less likely the family unit will be in support of advancing academically especially outside of the classroom. It has also been viewed that the age of the student plays a role in regards to achievement gap. In other words, the differences were not as great as it might have been expected from the achievement gap between the age group up to 16 years, as it were between their socio-economic statuses (Sheppard, 2009). Sheppard suggested the impact of parental involvement was thought to work through parents’ educational values and aspirations being presented in a positive parenting style, which influenced how pupils perceived education, schoolwork, and their motivation to achieve. If the parents valued higher educational level, the students’ value would be of equal importance (Sheppard, 2009). In considering this value, the author suggested that parental involvement affected children’s achievement more than school procedures, especially in the primary years. This lack of involvement was determined to have an effect in the later school years in determining the magnitude of learning. This same involvement was perceived in pupils’ educational aspirations and staying in education rather than measured achievement (Sheppard, 2009).
Research and Data
Research on truancy among schools, families, peer groups, and individuals factor has slowly evolved according to the results from this study data from principles of middle-high school students of different states. Information on participants came from those who attended an average comprehensive school and based on their percentage of pupils receiving free or reduced school meals. The average targets for these schools were 91.9% (Sheppard, 2009). This figure indicated that all pupils with an attendance below 92% could be considered poor attenders. These attender names were obtained from the participating school’s register (Sheppard, 2009). In retrieving such information, an interview was used to elicit in depth pupil descriptions of their parent’s behavior over matters of school attendance and their explanations of why it occurred. An interview was chosen instead of a written questionnaire as the pupils were judged unable to put detailed responses in writing. The questionnaire was designed to give quantifiable data from qualitative questions which would have been suitable for statistical analysis (Sheppard, 2009). Data were collected and throughout the frequency was rated on a 4 point grading scale. The categories determined (0-3), where 0 represented never, 1 represented once or twice a term, 2 represented once every 2-3 weeks and 3 represented once a week or more often students missed school(Sheppard, 2009).
In this statistical correlation, researchers viewed in secondary schools, there were correlations between related poor attendance, antisocial behavior, anxiety, low academic attainment and poor future outcomes regarding employment, adult relationships and crime driving the poor academic down turn (Sheppard, 2007). Within the down turn, it was self -evidence that the students that were in truant jeopardy were more likely to have a track record related with law enforcement. Outside of being in jeopardy with the law, good and poor school attenders within the age bracket of 12-13 years of age, were compared on quantifiable measures of their self- reported requested on numerous occasion to be absent from school with parental permission. Results found this age bracket claimed that they asked their parents to allow their absences from school on an occasional or more often basis using illness as an excuse (Sheppard, 2007).
Sheppard reported the study done by M. Morris and S. Rutt in 2004, addressed an uneven association between school attendance and achievement with 14-15 year old pupils. Sheppard conveyed this study showed boys underperformed girls with the same level of attendance problem. The report also revealed better attendance among black Caribbean pupils than their white pupils, but the data did not reflect higher achievement. It did show the relationship reflected attendance and achievement varied according to subject between these two groups with poor attendance being associated with poor achievement in English, but not mathematics (Sheppard, 2007).
Implication of Time
In considering poor achievement in Math and English, author Richard Schiming, 2009, measured the impact of time and student’s commitments to various course activities one of the major factors students’ performance where low in given classes. The results were revealing by far, the most valuable and important time commitment in a course was the time actually spent in the classroom proved major improvement. Time spent was the key importance determinant of a student success and each unit of time in the class itself provided, among all the class related activities, proved the greatest improvement in student performance (Shiming, 2009). The importance of students’ performance was viewed as time spent in a class in discussion sections that accompanied lectures. Also the importance of time spent studying outside of class preparing for the class session itself shown to be effective. Perhaps most surprisingly was the result that the least significant time commitment in improving student performance in a particular class was the time spent studying for the tests or quizzes. The greatest positive impact overall daily basis preparing for and participating in class were the students outperform those students who do not attend or skip class regularly (Shiming, 2009).
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The role of class attendance specifically in this research demonstrated that the lack of attendance was statistically significant in explaining why a student received failing grades of a D rather than an A, B, or C in any specific class (Shiming, 2009). The statistical tests employed found that regular class attendance was a significant determinant in minimizing a student’s chance of receiving failing grades. This study strongly suggested that regular class attendance can aid significantly by acting as an insurance policy in avoiding a D or an F grade in any given class. Data were also sorted to determine the relative impact of each absence in the student’s final letter grade for a particular course (Shiming, 2009). The empirical results showed that absence from class was statistically significant in lowering the letter grade of the typical student. Specifically, each absence from class lowered a student’s grade by 0.06 in a 4.00 grading system. Thus, a student with 10 absences in a given term would lower his/her grade by 0.6, which would be the difference between a C plus and a B for example. Therefore making attendance one of the major factors in student achievement and schools accountability (Rutkowski, Gonzalez, Joncas, & Davier 2010).
In recent years truancy has become a contextual and school related problem around the country. This behavior has sparked various governments and educational agencies to develop a stricter policy to reduce truancy levels, mainly based on the argument that truancy was associated with risk behavior, crime and substance abuse. Researchers shown in various countries, school systems and government agencies increasingly perceived truancy as a major and salient problem for the education system (Claes, Hooghe & Reeskens, 2009). Other countries have developed a vigorous policy to reduce truancy and other form of absenteeism in order to improve and build the achievement gap. Mainly this new stricter policy was deeming from the fact that police and welfare officers had to effectively control the presence of minors on the streets during school hours (Claes, Hooghe, & Reeskens, 2009). Since students were choosing to skip out on being in class learning, law enforcement agencies had to imposed sanctions on parents to take appropriate action in truancy matters or be fine, forced to take parenting courses or be prosecuted. If schools were going to change the level of achievement, then the level of truancy must be dealt with in the same manner as risky behaviors like the use of alcohol and illegal drugs or violence (Claes, Hooghe, & Reeskens, 2009).
Penalties and the Law
Legislation firmly states that children’s attendance at school were the responsibility of the parents. Official guidance encouraged education social work/welfare services and school pastoral staff to use largely punitive, or perceived punitive methods, with parents of poor attenders. The findings suggested that by the secondary school years, poor attenders were likely to have a history of inconsistent parental reaction to school absenteeism and perhaps education in general (Sheppard, 2007). Limited research evidence suggested that prosecuting parents of non-attenders did not result in improved attendance. It was concluded that such prosecuted parents tended to be socially excluded and disadvantaged, with financial penalties serving a mixture of deterrence retribution and a culture of blame. Similarly, education policy makers should demand high-quality evaluations and empirical studies to examine the relationship between parental prosecution and children’s school attendance, if education welfare services are to use such legal procedures with conviction (Sheppard, 2007).
The key to absences and tardiness were finding the right consequences. Under some school’s new policy, when a student misses a single class, he or she does not receive a lower class grade or a zero for missed work. Instead, within a few hours of the infraction the student’s parents receive a phone call (and, if available, an e-mail), and within 36 hours a staff member meets with the student to inquire about the absence. There after every unexcused absence resulted in after-school detention. The response of this action students showed that they took these consequences more seriously than they took a change in their grades. In the research one student commented, “Last year I could skip and nobody cared. This year, if I skip once I’m taken to the woodshed” (Reeves, 2008).
Since the adoption of this new policy, unexcused absences have dropped by 42 percent, the number of disciplinary referrals has dropped by 64 percent, and suspensions have dropped by 37 percent. These results were strikingly consistent with evidence from other schools. When schools improved their grading policies-for example, by disconnecting grades from behavior-student achievement increased and behavior improved dramatically (Reeves, 2008).
In regards to truancy, data clearly demonstrated that policies should not be based solely on repressive policies, but measures should be included as an instrument in the fight against school absenteeism. Investigating truancy, it has been proven school does make a difference. Schools that encourage participation environments can offer supporting climates that are seen as open environment for participation produced a lower truancy record and performance level increased. Also, schools that intensified the involvement of parents with what goes on at the school, and increased achievement challenges strengthened their supporting school climate (Claes, Hooghe, & Reeskens, 2009).
The research findings supported the claim that truancy should be considered a vital educational problem. High truancy prevented schools from reaching their goal of providing children with a sufficient level of skills to play a meaningful role in society. As much of a fight against truancy, it has not being eliminated as a school issue, but was looked at as a matter of law and order, a core element concern of the education system. As lifelong learners, professional must recognize that professional practices continue to evolve as reflections are placed on new information. If and when information arises that helps and identify the root of educational challenges and track progress which can more readily develop an action plan that will have a positive impact on students, then a common goal will emerge to see every student succeed.
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