- In 2013, Arkansas legislators passed a law ending out-of-school suspensions as a consequence for skipping school. But apparently, schools never got the message, according to a Chalkbeat article.
- The article cites a study by a Michigan State University researcher who found that three years later, close to 1,100 students were being suspended for truancy and that schools didn’t hear about the law until early last year.
The study also shows that schools with a higher percentage of students of color were even less likely to follow the law, and that mandates and laws are no guarantee that schools will actually change their practices, the story says.
Schools have historically suspended students to limit misbehaving students’ influence on peers and send a strong message about what is acceptable in school. But suspending those who miss school only increases their disengagement from the school environment. Studies have found that suspension can increase the likelihood of expulsion and dropping out, and disproportionately affects students of color.
Schools are now increasingly implementing alternative discipline measures, such as restorative justice programs and classes in which students learn how to change their behavior. Experts also recommend teaching the importance of daily attendance beginning at the preschool level and engaging parents and community members in efforts to making sure students understand the negative effects of missing school.
Chronic tardiness or absenteeism is typically a symptom of a larger problem, such as a health condition, family instability and even fear of bullying. Some districts are now increasing efforts to better understand the reasons why students miss school, especially because the majority of states are now tracking chronic absenteeism rates as part of their plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act.