Every day in many large cities 25 percent or more of the students in middle and high school do not show up for school. They have lost faith in the school system where they are consistently three to four years behind their grade level. Students are hanging out whenever they can just to avoid school. Some expose themselves to harm or abuse from their peers and adults just to miss a day of school. This student absence problem is not going away it is growing. It is progressing as parents become more detached from their students education or they are working two jobs to keep food on the table.
The attendance crisis is also a clear indication that young people do not know the value of education. They are not aware of the career opportunity that are slipping through there fingers. They do not see that their school attendance is preparation for the world of work. Who will tell them that they get paid for showing up for work? Prisons are full of students who have dropped out of school or rarely attend school. This further complicates their ability to develop the work ethics that should be instilled at an early age
In order to resolve these issues school administrators should meet with parents and students to brainstorm possible solutions. Each community can set up a unique system that works. The parents who are at various schools can share ideas that work. For example in the computer industry they hire hackers to test how well a company is protected from hackers and viruses. Involving students in the conversation will give school administrators an opportunity to hear their issues.
In light of the attendance crisis schools need a radical solution. Here are some strategies to consider:
1. Pay students who go to after school programs to receive tutoring.
2. Track students study skills so that they will know how to improve their grades.
3. Allow students to earn a one day pass from their school where they can volunteer in the community.
4. Let students work part time during the day and take classes at night.
5. Students can earn points toward the purchase of some electronic item based on their attendance.
6. Solicit companies throughout the region to adopt a school where there are high attendance problems. Also get this company to provide mentors
for these students.
7. Get the students involved in clubs so that they can feel a sense of commitment to the schools.
8. If the student improves their attendance they become eligible to interview for internship opportunities
9. Allow the students to attend a cyber school two days out of the week.
10. Students who attend school faithfully during the 9th, 10th and 11th grade can achieve an opportunity to work part time during their senior year.
The partners who should be involved in resolving the attendance issues include parents, schools and corporations. Parents should not turn their eyes away from this critical community issue. Complex student attendance issues require innovative thinking. Sometimes students need to be saved from themselves. They often do not have the ability to see how their actions are leading them astray. Their minds may also be clouded or confused by peer pressure. It’s time to engage parents and students in a conversation that influences how schools inspire attendance. Students are constantly asking what’s the benefit of education. The message must be clear that student attendance is an integral part of their life as a students and a future employee.
Dr Stephen Jones is an education coach and author of Seven Secrets of How to Study, Parent's Ultimate Education Guide and the Ultimate Scholarship Guide information at www.studyskills2u.com