The Student News Site of West Albany High School

WHIRLWIND

The Student News Site of West Albany High School

WHIRLWIND

The Student News Site of West Albany High School

WHIRLWIND

Absentminded: How to Help Chronically Absent Students

How we plan to get students back on track in the face of chronic absenteeism

Ever since COVID-19 impacted the world, several reports of increased school absences have occurred. Students who miss 10% or more of school days due to excused, unexcused, or suspended absences are considered chronically absent. According to the 2022-2023 Oregon State Report Card, 38.1% of students are missing 10% or more of school.

     Chronic absenteeism is different from truancy, which accounts for only unexcused absences and relies on legal and administrative solutions. Chronic absenteeism relies on a community-based strategy to positively impact the students.

     To combat the rise in absences, teachers and administrators at WAHS meet every Tuesday to discuss absent data. This includes students who are recently getting on the radar for missing school, students who are getting off the radar, and those who are having consistent absences, as well as what admin can do to help.

     “What’s causing them not to be able to get to school on time? We look at that and try to figure out what’s causing [absences],” assistant principal Jessica Smith said. “We meet with the families, and we need to come up with a plan if need be.” There are many resources used to help students understand what they need to do to be successful in school.

     Smith says that some students may not want to come to school because they don’t feel a connection to what’s going on there. One reason students have been asked to complete surveys given in Dog Teams is so administrators can better understand what students need help with. 

     However, absences aren’t the only issue. Students often come in late to class throughout the day. Staff members get together on the last blue day of the month to discuss patterns they see with tardiness. 

     “If we have a student who’s just off the charts with tardies, that would usually signify something’s going on, especially if it’s in the morning,” Smith said.  Tardies and absences can be caused by many factors.“It can range from mental health struggles to lack of secure housing to apathy.”

     Before WAHS’ recent schedule changes, lunch would take place after the second period of the day, which often caused an increase in tardies for upperclassmen. Juniors and seniors would leave campus for lunch and not make it back to school on time. “Most of them have opens [at the end of the day now], so they’re done for the day. They can leave campus and go get lunch and not worry about being back on time,” Smith said. 

     In previous years, there have been truancy officers who have assisted with student absences. Truancy officers would work with the student’s entire family and would know the exact steps needed to help them be successful in school. 

     “The Administration here has really high expectations of how we want this school to perform, so I feel like it’s not going as fast as we’d like,” Smith said. But we understand that progress takes time.”

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Kayla Stefan
Kayla Stefan, News Editor
Kayla Stefan is in her second year on staff and is currently holding the role of News Editor. Stefan has covered special, news, and entertainment. She enjoys designing and having to cut the word count of her stories. Stefan hopes to improve her design skills, and communication skills in the following years.
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