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Chronic absenteeism: Preventing the worst-case scenario

Published Monday, February 12, 2018

A recent study by the U.S. Department of Education shows about 20 percent of high school students are chronically absent from school. The same study shows those students are also more likely to fail core subjects and drop out.

Administrators will tell you it seems there are more absences on the high school level than ever. The data shows it's something to address in all races and backgrounds.

"I'm a little bit concerned right now, at the direction things are going," said Stratford High School principal Heather Taylor. "...By the time they get to the high school level, most of these kids you have seen at the elementary and middle school (levels) have already fallen behind."

Taylor said what she sees in those chronically absent students is they often don't feel accepted and/or are overwhelemed with frustration. 

"Kids are so stressed out to the point of being sick," Mrs. Taylor said.

Paired with the spike in absences are more visits to the guidance office. Some of those visits, Mrs. Taylor said, are accompanied by suicide risk assessments.

"You don't want to lose your children, in any way, shape or form. If they know someone cares, that's such a great impact on them," Mrs. Taylor said.

As far as having an impact and raising awareness, Taylor believes it's case-by-case in many situations. But bottom-line, too many students are missing valuable instruction.

Berkeley County School District offers virtual learning programs aimed at saving students from the worst-case scenario. BCSD also offers evening classes for some students in need.

Several teachers at Stratford High School are also leading "flipped classrooms." In those classes, core instruction is delivered electronically, but exciting and interactive activities happen in class. Mrs. Taylor said she's become a fan of that approach, as it becomes attractive to some students desiring social interaction.

"We really need to keep up with the times and do a lot more with media for them and keep it exciting. Because if not, we're going to lose them," Mrs. Taylor said. 

For more information on BCSD virtual learning programs, CLICK HERE.

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Brian Troutman
troutmanb@bcsdschools.net
843-899-8367