Prolific absenteeism is crippling the academic performance of thousands of school students and contributing to Australia’s slide down the international education rankings.
A major study of 415,000 school students conducted over five years to 2012, “Student Attendance and Educational Outcomes: Every Day Counts”, has linked increasing rates of absenteeism with declining scores in national literacy and numeracy tests.
The study conducted for the Federal Government by the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Western Australia warns: “Parents need to be aware that when their child misses school it can have an ongoing impact on their learning.
“Even small amounts of unauthorised absence from school were associated with substantial falls in average Naplan (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) test scores.
Parents and educators are so concerned about the levels of school absenteeism they have called for a whole of community campaign to ensure children attend class on every day of term.
Schools have revealed they are not only grappling with hardened young truants – they are increasingly complaining that some parents encourage their children to skip class to go shopping, attend a birthday party or take an early holiday.
About 33,000 teenagers are absent from school every day in NSW, according to NSW Education Department data that shows attendance rates can be as low as 70 per cent.
President of the Australian Primary Principals’ Association Norm Hart said it was extremely important research.
“It is absolutely critical that we address this matter – kids are away from school too much and the community is too lenient and too forgiving,” he said.
“They (the Telethon Institute) have found a direct link between student absenteeism and Naplan scores.”