Attending to Absentees: An Investigation of How Four Urban Alternative Schools Respond to Absenteeism

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Title: Attending to Absentees: An Investigation of How Four Urban Alternative Schools Respond to Absenteeism
Authors: Birioukov, Anton
Date: 2020-05-01
Abstract: Thousands of children are absent from school every day. Students miss school for a multitude of reasons connected to the student, their family, the school, and the wider society. This research conceptualizes absenteeism as voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary absences revolve around students’ deliberate decisions to miss school; whereas involuntary absences are often imposed on the student. For example, preferring to engage in some recreational activity outside of the school is considered a voluntary absence, whereas having to work during school hours to earn an income is an involuntary absence. Unfortunately, the majority of mainstream schools do not demarcate between voluntary and involuntary absences and reprimand pupils for absenteeism regardless of its cause. As a result of these actions, many youths are pushed, pulled, or fade away from their education. A lucky few find their way to alternative schools where they are offered a last chance to earn a high school diploma. Some alternative schools are able to not only raise attendance, but also to accommodate involuntary absenteeism, where a student is allowed to miss some class without penalty. However, little Canadian evidence exists documenting how alternative schools respond to absenteeism. This research interviewed 40 students and 17 staff members in four alternative schools in Ontario, Canada, to capture their perspectives on absenteeism. The findings indicate that mainstream schools the students attended were not effective in responding to absenteeism; whereas the alternative schools were better positioned to ensure that the students were able to progress with their education regardless of their ability to attend consistently. Nevertheless, there are concerns about the pupils’ readiness to succeed in postsecondary education and/or subsequent work upon graduation from an alternative school.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/40446
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-24679
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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