Why do teenagers miss so much school? And what can we do to get them to come back to class?
Get Schooled, a nonprofit that connects to thousands of students across the country, decided to find out. In late July, the group conducted an e-mail survey of 15,000 students active on the Get Schooled website. More than 1,300 students from 46 states responded, a mix of age groups and racial and ethnic backgrounds. Only a quarter of the students reported missing more than five days in the year.
The reasons they gave for missing school were enlightening:
- I wasn’t feeling well: 79%
- I had obligations with my family: 40%
- I didn’t feel like it: 21%
- I didn’t do my homework/study for a test: 17
- I didn’t have a ride: 10%
Breaking down the numbers even further, Get Schooled found some trends:
- Middle school students are more likely than high school students to cite social issues/bullying issue as a cause to miss school
- White students are least likely to cite ‘no ride’ as an issue for missing school but most likely to cite family obligations and social issues/bullying as reasons for missing school
- African American students are most likely to cite ‘no ride’ as a reason for missing school
- Asian students are least like to cite “not feeling well as a reason for missing school
Among those students who said they occasionally miss and frequently miss school, a few reasons stand out:
- Students who frequently miss and occasionally miss are most likely to cite homework/not ready for a test as a reason for missing school
- Students who occasionally miss are most likely to cite family obligations as a reason for missing school
- Students who frequently miss are most likely to cite “didn’t feel like it” as a reason for missing school
Most students – 95 percent – say their parents are largely aware of when they miss school, though that drops to 84 percent among students who miss the most school. Students are less certain that their teachers notice: Two-thirds believe that at least one teacher notices, though the numbers are slightly lower among middle school students.
What would bring them back to school? Incentives seem to be the answer. About three in five said they would be motivated by rewards. Nearly as many said they would be motivated by the opportunity to win an amazing experience if they had perfect attendance. More than half said they would come to school more often if they had a better understanding of the consequences of missing school and the connection to a dream job.
This is great information as schools and communities plan their messaging and activities for Attendance Awareness Month. It also informs Get Schooled efforts to encourage better attendance. Beginning in mid-September, Get Schooled will offer several initiatives that will reinforce key messages and encourage improved attendance. Any student in the country can sign up or participate in these activities on the Get Schooled website:
- Get Schooled Calculator – Wonder if you absences are adding up? We have a calculator that can tell you if you’re missing too many days.
- Get Schooled Breakfast Club – Students can sign up to receive daily inspirational messages and inside tips from Get Schooled celebrity ambassadors and more.
- Get Schooled Perfect Attendance Prize Packs – If you check in on Get Schooled at your school every day for a month, students will be in the running to win a Get Schooled prize pack. We are also exploring the feasibility of offering the school with the most ‘full month check ins” could win a lunch for those students on us.
- Get Schooled Perfect Attendance –Check in every school day for the whole school year and a luck student could be celebrating the end of the year in Times Square with us!