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How can Schools Enforce Mandatory Attendance?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

Many schools throughout the world have difficulty enforcing mandatory attendance for a variety of reasons. Some students find it more worthwhile to enter the labor force and earn money for their families, while others struggle with coursework and choose simply not to attend. Others have difficulty getting to school because they live in rural areas. The reasons why students do not attend school are complex and seemingly endless, making mandatory attendance difficult to enforce. Some schools base part of a student's grade on attendance, while others make an attendance percentage a requirement for graduation.

In some locales, a student must attend classes a certain percentage of the school year in order to advance to the next grade. The student can be held back in the same grade if he or she fails to meet mandatory attendance requirements, which some critics claim can discourage students from attending school at all. Proponents, however, claim it encourages students to attend class because it means they can progress to the next grade level with their peers.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

Other schools enforce mandatory attendance with a rewards system. Students who attend school every day are rewarded with an award, special privileges, and so on. Students who do not attend the mandatory amount of school days may be placed on a sort of probation period in which they must improve their attendance. If they improve, they may be rewarded with certain privileges.

School districts or schools may implement mandatory attendance policies that apply to students, parents, and staff. If a student misses a day of school, for example, an administrator will call home to find out where the student is. If the student misses several days of school, an administrator or other representative of the school may visit the student's home to learn more about the absence. A determination can then be made as to whether the absence is justified — perhaps due to an illness or family emergency — or if the student is truant for reasons not considered reasonable or vital.

Many countries or locales have laws that require students to attend school until a certain age. If the student fails to report to school, the parents or guardians of that student may be held responsible for the student's absence. Legal action may be taken against the parents, and the student may be forced to enroll in an educational institution. The student may also be forced to enter a detention center, and the parents of that student can be fined or jailed.

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Discussion Comments


@stormyknight- My daughter's school is very strict on attendance, as well. Every time she is absent, I get a phone call with a recorded message telling me that my child is not at school. Truancy officers let it be known that are serious about school attendance!


My 12-year-old son goes to a school where mandatory school attendance is top priority. My ex-husband and I share custody of our son. Half of the school year he stays with his dad and the other half, he stays with me. I received a letter in the mail telling me that my son had missed too many days of school and we were required to attend truancy court.

Needless to say, I was very angry. Apparently, my son’s stepmother was having a hard time getting up in the morning and getting them off to school. If you check the child in past a certain time, it is counted as a tardy. If you have a tardy three times, it counts as an absence. In all, my son had 14 absences and I had no idea. In truancy court, I explained the situation and made sure my son was with me the rest of that school year.

If my son had any more unexcused absences, he would be put on probation.

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