State lawmakers are hoping to assist educators in curbing the alarming chronic absenteeism in Connecticut’s schools. And, the proposed bill has already made it out of the education committee.
According to state figures, roughly 11.5 percent of Connecticut students – or about 60,000 kids – are chronically absent, including 17 percent of all high school students.
“If a child is chronically absent, it’s an indicator for poor reading skills by third grade,” said Steven Hernandez of the Connecticut Commission on Children. “And, as we know, if you’re not reading by third grade, you’re not reading to learn thereafter.”
The state classifies any child, who misses at least 10 percent of school days, for any reason, as a chronic absentee. However, this bill states only those missing that much school through unexcused absences would be deemed chronic. But, the committee is flexible.
“I’m open to the idea of including absences that relate to disciplinary action,” said Fleischmann.
State Representative Doug McCrory (D-Hartford), a member of the education committee and Vice Principal of the Public Safety Academy, magnet middle and high school in Enfield, says, “If you want to have successful schools, you have to have positive relationships with your students and with their home (parents, siblings).”
So, how do you get a student motivated to attend school? It’s not always about motivating them.
“You know, in some of our situations, we found that parents work and the child needs to stay home on a particular day to take care of a young one,” Hernandez said.
According to Fleischmann, in Kindergarten through second grade, chronic absenteeism is often a result of parents deemphasizing the importance of school. And, by middle school, trouble learning and social issues tend to be the culprits.