The negative correlation between absence from school and achievement is cumulative and can affect student outcomes well into the future, the report states.
The report recommends that school attendance be prioritised in the ‘formative years’ of a student’s education, for example by praising attendance, rewarding punctuality and insisting on parental explanation of absences.
“The findings reinforce that there remain particular challenges to address when it comes to attendance and that understanding the relationship between attendance and achievement can help teachers, school leaders, parents, and school communities promote positive attendance habits and tailor early and individualised interventions, to address problematic absenteeism and lift outcomes for students,” AITSL CEO Mark Grant said.
“Policies and responses at the school level will be most effective if they simultaneously target factors both ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the school gates, showing that we all have a part to play when it comes to school attendance.
“While there are many complex issues at play when it comes to school attendance, we shouldn’t shy away from the challenges. Clearly it is crucially important to involve families and communities in purposeful, authentic and ethical ways to provide students with every opportunity to reach their potential.”
Overall, the report indicates that attendance is at a good level in Australian schools.
Year 1 to 10 students attend an average of 92 per cent of available school days, which is comparable to other countries with high performing education systems.
Less positively, the report also identifies a significant gap in attendance rates between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and non-Indigenous students, as well as between metropolitan and remote students.
The full report can be found on AITSL's website.