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District School Board Ontario North East Addresses Persistent Absenteeism

August 23, 2017

Every day counts. That’s the message District School Board Ontario North East is working to get across to families throughout the region.

A recent Ministry of Education report has revealed that across the district, as many as 25-percent of DSB ONE students miss nearly a month of school every year, ranking the Board with the 7th highest absenteeism rate in the province in 2013-2014. Persistent absences can correlate to poor performance at every grade level, including lower scores on provincial EQAO tests, and ultimately higher drop-out rates.

The concern was highlighted at the September 20th regular Meeting of the Board.

"The earlier we can identify those that are not attending, the easier it is to help them with their issues or concerns, and the less likely they are to continue to develop poor attendance habits," commented Board Mental Health Lead, Denise Plante-Dupuis. "Children who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are less likely to read well by third grade, and students who don’t read proficiently by third grade are more likely to struggle in school. Chronic absence can have consequences throughout a child’s academic career."

A number of factors can play a role in poor attendance: parents who place little value on education, generational non-attenders, mental health and addiction, family stress, academic challenges, and lack of external supports.

The Board plans to take a closer look at attendance numbers in schools to see how many students are missing 10 percent or more of school days. Principals will pay particular attention to students who are chronically absent and who they are. When they can, they will also offer fun incentives for those students who show the best attendance or most. A social media and radio campaign has also been created to help spread the word about the importance of regular attendance.

"It provides us with a starting point. The Board commends staff for preparing such a thorough guideline to assist administrators," commented Timmins Trustee Peter Osterberg.

"Clearly it’s a vital link to the success of our young people and success in their learning as well as their mental health. I’m really glad to see this program coming together in such an effective fashion," commented Board Chair, Doug Shearer.

To view the media release in full:

Board Addresses Persistent Absenteeism - September 22, 2016.pdf

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