I want to bring up a subject that is a growing concern for us as a faculty at OHS. Admittedly, this is a message that may be “preaching to the choir” in many regards, but still it is a topic we would like to be upfront about in the hope that we could work with parents to address it effectively.
In the last few years, we have seen what we feel is an alarming increase in the overall number of student absences. We do not feel this problem is isolated to just a small percentage of students, and while a large percentage of students still only miss a day or two of school per year, that percentage of students is dropping in a noticeable manner.
This drop in the consistency of attendance by too large of a portion of our student body is really concerning to us because we know firsthand how it can negatively affect learning. In a lesson where students are actively involved in learning concepts through discussions, modeling by their teachers, constructing understanding by building on the ideas of peers, and the progressive guidance of the teacher as they practice, it is literally impossible to make up the learning that occurs in many lessons. When absences are rare, little cumulative negative impact is noticed but when students are absent much more regularly, sometimes 10-20 times per year, the negative impact on learning is undeniable.
A secondary concern we have with a focus and goals built around working hard to prepare our students for success in their futures is that attendance patterns where students are missing double digit days or more in a school year is not a habit that is positioning any student for success regardless of their area of pursuit after high school. We certainly understand the impact of significant health issues on attendance, but that is much different than the problem I am attempting to describe which is simply a lack of consistency in attendance.
We have started to discuss steps we can take to avoid reinforcing frequent absences, and we would ask any parent taking the time to read this message to simply have a discussion with your high school students about the topic. Please reinforce the importance of consistent attendance both in terms of their learning and habits. Maybe you could make a connection to the expectations your employer has for you in terms of attendance. For many of you this discussion will simply reinforce the importance of the good habits they have in place. For others it may be an area where we can all work together to address a really important issue. If you have any questions about your students’ attendance, please feel free to call us and we will provide you up to date information.
We appreciate any assistance parents can offer in taking steps to improve this very real concern at Oostburg High School.
Sincerely, Scott Greupink