Attendance Patterns In A School District: A Case Study

The purpose of this study was to inform school leaders about how to minimize the number of chronically absent elementary students within the school district. Through the perspectives of a sensemaking framework and the framework of the ethic of profession, which places the best interests of the student at the center of decision making for leaders, this study shows the impact of how school leaders make their decisions using sensemaking and then deciding if their understanding and decisions are for the best interests of the student. Sensemaking is the process in which interpretation of the experience is derived and when a person seeks to clarify what is going on by extracting and interpreting cues from their environment, using these as a basis for a plausible account that provides order and makes sense of what has occurred and through which they continue to enact the environment (Brown, 2000; Maitlis, 2005; Weick, 1995; Weick, Sutcliff, & Obstfeld, 2005). The best interests of the student framework is viewed through the inner personal struggle of issues related to the justice, critique, and care of education for children, through which leaders begin to gain a deeper understanding of who they are and what they believe as people and professionals. By developing this understanding and realizing that clashes between codes may occur, leaders are able to use their best professional judgment to make decisions that are in the best interest of students (Shapiro & Stefkovich, 2011). The research was conducted through a mixed methods study that included qualitative data from participant interviews and quantitative data from surveys and district attendance data to examine the decision making of school leaders related to student attendance.