Reduce Chronic Absenteeism with Social and Emotional Learning

Under the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states must establish accountability systems that measure student success or school quality. How to measure these is up to individual states, and many are zeroing in on chronic absenteeism.

Districts have long used attendance rates as a metric for measuring early warning and student performance. Yet, chronic absenteeism goes a step further by measuring the number of days a student misses and how many students miss 10 percent or more of the school year. Research shows that chronically absent students are at-risk of academic failure, dropping out, and even criminal behavior. (How does your state rate in its number of chronically absent students? Use this interactive map to find out.)

Learn how social and emotional learning (SEL) can support state and district plans to tackle chronic absenteeism and establish the required accountability systems to measure student success or school quality.

SEL’s Role in Solving Chronic Absenteeism

A growing body of evidence shows that improving a school’s climate and culture can reduce chronic absences. Now more than ever, schools serve diverse student populations from varied backgrounds. A recent study by the Hamilton Project found that schools have lower absentee rates when students feel their school climate and culture is caring and supportive of them.

SEL plays an integral part in improving school climate and culture, which in turn can reduce chronic absences. Extensive research has shown that in addition to increasing student achievement, SEL also fosters a positive school climate and culture and promotes prosocial behaviors such as kindness, empathy, sharing, and compassion. SEL also can engage students in learning, get them excited about school, and reduce depression and stress. These are all factors critical to student attendance. To meet the needs of our students — and dispel a culture of chronic absenteeism — schools must create safe, caring, and supportive environments where all students feel accepted and can thrive.

Using SEL to Solve Chronic Absenteeism in Your Schools

Schools looking to reduce chronic absences by improving climate and culture should consider implementing an SEL framework that includes school- and district-wide practices, classroom instruction, assessment, and family and community outreach. Activities may include:

Forming a workgroup tasked to improve a school’s climate and culture through SEL

Teaching educators about SEL and how to teach it to students

Establishing school-wide norms, expectations, and values around SEL

Developing bullying prevention programs

Taking time for SEL assessment and instruction

Making efforts to promote strong and positive educator-student, educator-educator, and student-student connections

Integrating SEL into multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) — counselors, social workers, psychologists, etc., should work together to promote and reinforce a school’s overall SEL system

School climate and culture and SEL go hand-in-hand with reducing chronic absences and have a deep impact on student achievement. Strong evidence shows that SEL can establish a positive school climate and culture where students feel safe, supported, and engaged in learning. Are you thinking about using chronic absenteeism as your measure of accountability? Learn how to implement a successful SEL framework in your school or district — contact our experts at Aperture Education today!

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