Attendance Matters

Student Attendance

This year one of our College Strategic Goals was to focus on student attendance. This has come from target goals set by Brisbane Catholic Education, but also as a response to recommendations from the Gonski Review and the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. There are several papers circulating around the education sector at the moment with great research that is highlighting to us all once again “that attendance does matter”. The following information I have taken from a paper written by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership “Spotlight: Attendance Matters”. This research is supporting our own attendance policy development, a draft of which will be available for feedback by the end of the term.

• Non-attendance has a variety of effects on students, both academically and socially. Absenteeism can increase social isolation, including alienation and lack of engagement with the school community and peers, leading to emotional and behavioural difficulties (Carroll, 2013; Gottfried, 2014). It is also associated with an increased likelihood of drop-out (Keppens & Spruyt, 2017; London, Sanchez, Castrechini, & Castrechini, 2016).

• There are a variety of interrelated factors that influence attendance rates. Some factors are school-related while others relate to individual and family contexts. Critically, the evidence suggests that early attendance and declining attendance habits from primary to secondary school have important ramifications for later years of schooling and student outcomes.

• There are many factors that influence student achievement – all school days matter. The correlation between absence and achievement is consistently negative and declines in achievement are evident with any level of absence. Although authorised absences and smaller amounts of absence were associated with only small declines in achievement, all absences count, and the impact of absence increases with the number of absences (Hancock et al., 2013).

• The impacts of absenteeism are cumulative “ The effects of non-attendance on achievement are cumulative and can impact both academic achievement and attendance in future years of schooling” – Hancock et al., 2013; Zubrick, 2014

• Declines in achievement are evident with any level of absence. However, greater numbers of absences are typically associated with larger declines in student achievement (Gottfried, 2014; Hancock et al., 2013). Studies of chronic absenteeism (missing more than 10% of school days) show that regardless of the type, absence, has a compounding negative impact on academic performance (Gershenson et al., 2017; Gottfried, 2009; Zubrick, 2014.

• It is vital that students attend and engage with the learning opportunities offered in classrooms. By setting attendance standards early, ensuring students feel a sense of belonging to their school, taking a ‘whole-of community’ approach, collecting detailed attendance information and planning individualised and culturally authentic approaches to addressing attendance, teachers, school leaders and school communities will be better equipped to support students to engage with their education.

As a College we have significant support for all our students in place, so please contact the College if you require specific support in the area of student absenteeism.

Mrs Louise Olley 
P-12 Head (Years 7-12)