Monday, July 22, 2019

Does Attendance Matter for Student Achievement?

Attendance matters from the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership
A report from the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) is entitled "Attendance matters". However, the have failed to address the useful role which online education can play, particularly for older students.

The report notes a strong correlation between attendance and student achievement. However, as they teach you in research 101, a correlation does not prove a causal relationship. The report discusses factors influencing
attendance, such as being the victim of bullying, parents who do not value education, poverty, geographical isolation, lack of affordable transport and limited school options. However, all of these could directly negatively effect both a student's academic achievements and their ability to attend school. Non-attendance may be just a symptom of the problems the student has, and addressing that in isolation may not be a solution, or even be detrimental.

Addressing these factors will likely improve both attendance and academic results, but there may be better ways to invest limited resources. Also some ways to address attendance may have negative social effects. As an example, one way to improve attendance for remote students is with boarding schools, but these can have negative effects, especially for indigenous students taken out of their community.

I suggest that it is likely the older the student, the less attendance matters. As an extreme case, I never saw the campuses of the last two universities I "attended". One university was 1,000 km away, the other 13,000 km away on the other side of the planet. Despite this, I received a very good education.

Students who are unable to "attend" school can have at least some studies undertaken remotely online. This may be preferable to removing them from their community for extended periods, or where they are unable, or unwilling to be in a conventional school environment.

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