One out of every six students in Washington was absent at least 18 days during the 2014-15 school year. Each of those absences was a lost opportunity that brought the student closer to dropping out.
Two local schools have actively addressed the issue of truancy by implementing a Community Truancy Board.
“Hoquiam began the Truancy Board three years ago,” said Hoquiam High School Assistant Principal Jason Ihde. “And last year we partnered with Aberdeen High School.”
Ihde said the boards include community volunteers who are offered training to make assessments and identify barriers students face. Efforts are focused on early identification. Students with more than two unexcused absences are called in with family members to address the problem.
The program apparently is working.
“After implementation of the program we saw a reduction in the number of students who engaged in truancy,” Ihde said.
A nationwide effort is also trying to help solve the problem: Attendance Awareness Month. Throughout September, events in more than 40 states, including Washington, will highlight efforts schools and districts are making to keep students in school and engaged.
“School exists to train people to be successful in life,” Washington State Superintendent of Public Instructions Randy Dorn, stated in a recent press release. “Employers want employees who show up every day, and they want employees who show up on time. Telling students that it’s OK to go to school sometimes but not others will only hurt them later in life.”
Dorn added one of his chief priorities is to shine a light on chronic absenteeism.
“For the past couple of years we’ve been able to look deeply into the data,” he said. “And that’s helping us see trends, which will help us solve the problem.”
Throughout the month, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction will identify best practices and bright spots, as well as provide data and tools to address chronic absenteeism.
With such national, state and local attention, it is hoped that students will experience a greater chance for success in the classroom and beyond.