EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – For many schools in Rhode Island, the last week of August signals the first days of school. As students get back to class, Dan McGowan joined Eyewitness News This Morning in studio to discuss rates of absenteeism.
For many educators across the state, rates of absenteeism are a frustration. If students aren’t in class, they simply aren’t learning at their full potential.
In the 2016 school year alone, 26 percent of students were considered “chronically absent,” meaning they missed 18 or more days per year.
The problem, absenteeism spans all grades from kindergarten to senior year. McGowan says the largest rates of absences tend to be years when students are starting at new schools: kindergarten, sixth grade, and ninth grade. Overall, the highest rates of absences tend to be during a student’s freshman year of high school.
Part of the problem, McGowan says, lies with parents. Especially in terms of elementary school children, it’s important for parents to keep in mind that school time is valuable for a child’s development. Besides traditional learning, a child develops a social identity in younger grades, as well as learns how to interact socially with peers. Keeping a child home could impact this development.
As students age and become more independent, many schools begin to offer incentive-based programs aimed at making students want to attend school. In districts such as Providence, students are given rewards for perfect or near-perfect attendance.