Research on School Attendance and Student Achievement: A Study of Ohio Schools

Article excerpt

There have been many discussions and debates on student achievement in Ohio. The increased accountability expectations by parents and state legislators initiated the use of the statewide Ohio Proficiency Tests, which have set standards for measuring how much students have learned in grades 4, 6, 9, and 12. Even though some of the grade levels for giving the test will soon change, achievement will continue to be monitored and reported to the public through the School District and Building Local Report Cards distributed to students' families annually.

Many factors play a role student achievement, directly and indirectly. Some of those variables can be controlled to a certain degree by students, parents, and educators, i.e., testing climate, and curriculum. Other factors are much more difficult to affect, such as socioeconomic conditions.The objective of this study is for educators to gain knowledge and insight concerning the relationship of student attendance and student achievement. That is, this study will examine school buildings in Ohio housing grades four, six, nine, and twelve, and the results of the Ohio Proficiency Tests taken by students in those grade levels. Student achievement based on those tests will be compared with their attendance averages to see if a positive correlation exists between school attendance and student achievement.

The Ohio Department of Education (2000) reports student attendance performance averages by school district and building on its web site and within the information printed in the Local Report Card sent to parents. A state standard of 93 percent annual attendance average has been established by ODE as the minimum attendance average for each school building. Reviewing school district and school building information from the ODE web site indicates 79 percent of the public schools in Ohio have met or exceeded the state attendance standard during the 1998-99 school year. This benchmark is one of many criteria used to evaluate school district and building performance in the state of Ohio.

Focus of the Study

The research and analysis completed for this study focuses on one variable and its relationship to student achievement: school wide student attendance. It is a variable that is often overlooked or taken for granted as an interesting but meaningless statistic. However, the positive impact of good school attendance on academic achievement may be greater than historically thought (Johnston, 2000, Lamdin, 1996). King (2000) cited attendance as one of the academic performance variables. Along with high school and college GPA, attendance was considered important for adaptive functioning in the cognitive and behavioral realms.

According to Kube and Ratigan (1992), student absences from school go beyond personal illness or death in the family. Good weather, vacations, and peer group pressure excuses effect daily attendance averages and student achievement to a greater degree than illnesses and family deaths. In Great Britain, it was noted that school attendance was one of the most important factors associated with progress toward literacy for children in British schools (Tymms, 1996).

Dekalb (1999) notes that student achievement is affected hi a negative way by absenteeism. One study of African-American males concluded that of the student's truant from elementary and high school, 75 percent did not graduate (Robins, Ratcliff, 1978). Poor attendance averages in school buildings was determined to be one of the factors leading to student test scores much lower than classmates (Barrington, Hendricks, 1989). Courts (1998) suggests student attendance should be charted and monitored weekly, since high attendance rates are indicators of effective schools.

Research Questions

Student attendance and its relationship to student achievement in Ohio schools will be reviewed using the following research questions:

1. Is there a significant, positive relationship between student attendance and student achievement (school building averages), as measured by the Ohio Proficiency Tests? …