Katie Exum

NYC19

Bremerton, Washington, USA

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Challenge

I teach students who are significantly below grade level. I consistently struggle with the problem of chronically absent students. It is not uncommon to have students who miss 2-3 days of school weekly. Absences have a devastating impact on the social engagement of these children. I often chat with students who are struggling with playground issues and fitting in after being absent. The more students are absent, the less involved they feel. They struggle with building positive relationships with peers and teachers, which can increase behavior problems. Schools with a large proportion of students in poverty are more likely to have high absentee rates.* Chronically absent students show lower levels of student engagement and are more likely to drop out of school.* Reasons for chronic absences vary. While schools work to reduce absences, I wonder how to increase the social engagement of students even when they are absent. *NEAResearchBriefNBI 57–2018

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