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The Effects of Excessive Absenteeism in Schools

by Malikah Walters, Demand Media

    Attending school regularly is a vital factor in school success for both students and teachers. Excessive school absenteeism is often linked to poor school academic achievement, so school attendance by both teachers and students plays an integral role in the success and educational advancement levels of any academic institution and all students enrolled.

    Limited Educational Instruction

    It is crucial to the success of any school to employ dedicated teachers who are physically present to administer quality education to each student. Excessive absenteeism by the teaching staff can drastically hinder the learning environment and academic achievement of students when instructors are not routinely present to teach them. When teachers are absent, schools must rely on substitute teachers to provide instruction for the students. However, many substitute teachers may not be qualified to provide quality educational instruction. Substitute teachers are not always required to possess a teaching certification, and in some school districts they are able to teach with only a high school GED. The loss of quality instructional time for students can result in unlearned academic skills and objectives, and subsequent reduction in students' standardized test scores.

    Poor Academic Progress

    Successful schools cannot survive without physically present students. According to the "Excessive Absences Intervention" research study by author Linda L. Williams, excessive absenteeism by students may result in unlearned course material from fewer hours of instruction, and a disruption of class instruction for teachers who have to administer remediation for the absent student when he returns to school. Excessive absenteeism by students may additionally result in poor academic achievement because students are not receiving instruction on a consecutive basis. This problem also causes low standardized test scores because absent students are not present to learn key concepts and skills that are assessed on standardized exams.

    Future Problems

    Excessive student absenteeism can lead to an increasing disinterest in school and academics in general. According to author Jason A. Schoeneberger’s "Longitudinal Attendance Patterns" study, excessive absenteeism increases the chances of a student eventually dropping out of school, which can lead to long term consequences for these students, such as lower average incomes, higher incidences of unemployment, and a higher likelihood of incarceration. Schoeneberger asserts that students who drop out of school face a higher risk of poverty because of their inability to secure quality paying employment due to their lack of education and resources. Dropouts who lack education and resources are more likely to commit criminal activity leading to incarceration.

    Decreased School Budget

    Excessive absenteeism also places an extreme strain on the school's budget, and allocated finances in each school district. Average daily attendance, or ADA, is the average attendance rate of students in a school year. States utilize a school district's ADA to determine the allocated funding it will receive. Schools may encounter a decrease in funding due to a loss of full-time students. This limited budget due to excessive absences causes a lack of educational resources and materials for the all the students in the school. According to "USA Today," about one in three teachers misses more than 10 days of school each year in the public school system. Providing substitutes for all of these absent teachers costs schools, cumulatively, at least $4 billion a year. "USA Today" further reported that in some states nearly 50 percent of the teachers miss more than 10 days of school in a typical 180-day school year.

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    About the Author

    Malikah Walters is an English professor, and has been instructing English and education courses at the college level since 2008. In addition to holding a master's degree in education from Towson University, Walters is also a certified master life coach and is the founder and owner of Spiritual Counseling and Life Coaching LLC., an international mental health counseling company.

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