Increased digitization of teaching and learning has induced greater accountability for educational institutions. Students’ attendance is fundamental to the learning process, and therefore, requires greater attention and at times intervention. Maintaining an attendance register is key to addressing absenteeism and concomitant factors. Thanks to technology, redundant tasks like roll calling in the classroom for tracking attendance and recording the percentage of attendance of each student in the classroom can now be automated. Institutions are increasingly urged by assessing agencies to maintain an attendance register following a standard format that is comparable across schools and administrative areas. This is because attendance in the classroom is correlated with better performance and academic achievement. Therefore, monitoring absenteeism through the attendance register is vital to the overall functioning of the school.
It is important to choose an online teaching platform that helps teachers and institutions track attendance easily.
Attendance and Absenteeism
Attendance in school is fundamental to receiving education. However, absenteeism, owing to various proximal and distal factors of physical and mental health, family, and community, is quite normative. Absenteeism refers to any form of planned or unplanned leave from school, and it impacts students more in early childhood. Consequently, it’s early childhood when issues of absenteeism such as truancy, school refusal, school phobia are to be diagnosed and tackled. Education researchers and institutions, however, do not categorize truancy and school refusal as a disorder. It is an issue of concern at the organizational, collective, as well as individual level.
Parents and home environment are some of the key factors influencing the attendance behavior of students. Therefore, awareness has to be raised among parents about the barriers to attendance in school and the need for early education. Indication of absence from school for longer periods, as reflected in the attendance register, necessitates quantification.
Factors Contributing to Attendance
Attendance or a lack of it in the classroom is contingent on various internal or proximal and external or distal factors. Attendance in school affects the physical and mental well-being of a student, their success in the long run, and various other outcomes in life. The CBSE Board in India, for example, specifies by-laws on attendance requirements. This is aimed at attendance regularisation, and stressing the importance of classes.
While social skills, achievements, and structure contribute to higher attendance, there are causes such as inequality, location differentiation, and various community-related factors that lead to poor attendance in the classroom. It’s highly imperative upon the school to monitor both, especially the latter.
Researchers in pediatric psychiatry have identified certain key factors contributing to slumped attendance in school. These are (i) medical, (ii) somatic, and (iii) miscellaneous.
i. Medical Factors of Absenteeism – Researchers at the University of Nevada have found that physical pain, chronic headache, dental as well as obesity-related issues, and disability substantially contribute to absenteeism.
ii. Somatic Factors – Disruptive sleep patterns are also one of the common reasons behind absence from school. Students who have complained of insomnia, parasomnia, and daytime sleepiness either miss school altogether or exhibit other school refusal behaviours.
iii. Miscellaneous reasons behind Absenteeism – Miscellaneous reasons of truancy include home-school incongruity, divergent cultural and linguistic background of students, negative affectivity including anxiety and depression, and the pursuit of tangible gratification outside school such as playing, shopping, or substance abuse.
School-level Policies Regarding Attendance
Refusal to attend school during early childhood as well as in adolescence can effectively be tackled with the introduction of new policies and alteration of the existing ones.
- Due documentation other than the attendance register must be maintained by both school and parents regarding the attendance behavior of the pupil.
2. Conceptualization of school refusal behavior and clear definition of the same are crucial.
3. Collection and reporting on metrics regarding attendance need to be promoted at the school level.
5. A school may not always be well-equipped to conduct advanced research and analysis on attendance in the classroom. Make use of the technology available and leverage it.
6. Once the research is conducted and concrete data on attendance is generated, its analysis is vital. The contributing factors and types of school refusal behavior are to be cataloged to introduce tangible solutions.
- Programs aimed at working with parents to improve attendance can be formulated by the school.
- Regular student counseling facilities based on research findings can help alleviate the causes of absenteeism.
- Monitoring changed attendance behavior following counseling, and rewarding sustained attendance may ensure better attendance.
Digital Solution of Advanced Attendance Registration
As the practice of remote study and teaching takes precedence, digital solutions are rising to the occasion to offer veritable solutions. Some applications provide a central platform where educators can take care of multiple classroom requirements, including attendance. These apps facilitate building a custom attendance management system. Attendance records can be generated automatically using platforms like Teachmint, and a master spreadsheet with details of each student, class, and department can be easily maintained by the school administration.
If a student's attendance is sub-par and the pattern is repetitive, teachers must make sure to get to the bottom of the problem. To nip the concern at the bud, teachers must be attentive and focused on student behavior. We will be back with a detailed blog on student behavior and how to manage the same. Until then, happy teaching!