Students show up to school more often when they see ‘familiar faces,’ new study finds is another excellent article by Matt Barnum at Chalkbeat.

The research finds that if elementary students are kept together year-to-year, then their rates of chronic absenteeism are reduced:

As for what explains the results, “Children’s mere exposure to peers in previous years may make children more comfortable in the schooling environment, given this baseline of familiarity,” write Kirksey and Gottfried. “If classrooms maintain some degree of stability for students in their day-to-day learning context by having a percentage of familiar faces, then students may be less likely to be absent from school as a result of anxiety or disengagement.”

You’ll want to read the entire article (as well as all articles written by Matt).

The study is about elementary-age children, but I wonder if the same would hold true for high-school age youth?

If so, I wonder if having Small Learning Communities, like our school has, might have a similarly positive impact.  In SLC’s, the same 300 or so students stay together with the same twenty-or-so teachers during their four-year career (see The Best Resources For Learning About Small Learning Communities).

As is typical (unfortunately) for most urban schools, our school’s chronic absenteeism rate is high at 26.7%.

A nearby high school, that doesn’t have Small Learning Communities, does have a higher rate of 29.5%.

Obviously, it’s not a scientific comparison, it’s not a huge difference, and there could be lots of other reasons for the contrast, but it doesn’t seem like a huge reach to think that SLC’s could be one reason.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources On Student Absenteeism.