What LeBron James Can Teach Us About Chronic Absenteeism — and What Schools Can Do About It
Basketball star LeBron James (also a founder of an Akron, Ohio public school) has been vocal about his experience as a chronically absent student.
James shares that in his fourth-grade year, he missed a total of 83 days of school. James’ own struggle to get into the classroom speaks to the larger challenges causing chronic absenteeism across the county – challenges related to health, transportation, and beyond.
But we know attendance is crucial to learning. Chronically absent students, or those who miss more than 10% (or eighteen days) of the school year, miss out on instruction and are likely to fall behind their peers.
The 74 recently shared an article about the renewed focus on encouraging attendance to improve student outcomes:
Given the strong link between regular attendance and graduation rates, the federal government is now requiring states to report on chronic absenteeism levels at every school. In addition, 36 states and the District of Columbia have begun using the attendance metric in their accountability rubrics for assessing schools under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.
That means education policymakers and practitioners need solutions to a problem that affects nearly 8 million students from pre-K through 12th grade nationwide. They’re looking for proven, research-based strategies that can be adapted to state and local circumstances and implemented quickly and cost-effectively under ESSA’s deadlines.
Earlier this year, the Scarlett Family Foundation released a new data resource: MNPS Cluster Profiles. By developing these profiles, we aimed to follow the experience of Nashville students who attend traditional public schools for their entire educational journey.
The data revealed a crisis of chronic absenteeism, particularly at the high school level, with rates at 30, 40 even as high as 47%. This means, at several Nashville high schools, a third or more of students are missing at least 18 days of key instruction. If students are not in the classroom, educators cannot teach them.
As the chronic absenteeism challenge persists, more and more Nashville students are falling behind. Metro Nashville Public Schools is trying to tackle this problem with a new initiative, Attendance Matters, which offers tips to parents on how they can reduce absences for their students. Watch this video to learn more.