bus graphicChronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10 percent or more of school due to excused or unexcused absences. Last year the State found that Berlin Middle–High School has chronic absenteeism problem.

Chronic absences not only have a huge impact on a student’s ability to succeed, but also can impede a teacher’s ability to meet the needs of all students in the classroom since they often are asked to revisit previously taught information so those absent students can catch up on what was missed.

Under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the district is required to create a “School Comprehensive Education Plan” (SCEP) for the Middle–High School to address this chronic absenteeism, as well as some of the low growth scores in 6th through 8th grade English Language Arts (ELA) and Math.

The first stage of addressing chronic absenteeism was data driven. The school’s administration, along with the state, reviewed absentee statistics in order to create an action plan.

Stage two of the Middle–High School’s action plan is a tutoring program. Tutoring will be made available to students who have notes for a medically excused absence. These notes serve as a record to track necessary tutoring for those students who are absent due to appointments with doctors, dentists, therapists, or for extended medical leave under the care of a practitioner.  The difference between these notes, and notes from parents is that these notes must be from the licensed medical practitioner.

When a note signed by an attending physician is sent into school, the school is able to offer tutoring to make up for the absence. Tutoring is not intended for students who leave for an appointment during the school day; these students will not be marked absent.

Once the medical notes are received a letter will be sent home to arrange tutoring to make up for the time missed. When the tutoring permission letter is returned, the unexcused absence will be replaced in the student’s record as an excused absence. The tutoring time will be scheduled to meet the needs of the students, and the students will be able to stay on track for successful learning.

At this time this program will only be made available at the Middle–High School level only, as the funding to support the tutoring is provided by the ESSA grant that the secondary building received due to its identification as a school in need of improvement.

For more information on chronic absenteeism at Berlin’s Middle–High School and how as a school community we can help reduce it, email Berlin Central School District’s Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, and District Data Coordinator, Fred Hutchinson fhutchinson@berlincentral.org or visit: https://www.attendanceworks.org/ and or https://www.everystudentpresent.org/.