Addressing Chronic Absenteeism with Restorative Circles
Chronic absenteeism plagues many districts, schools and charter schools across the United States. When a child is absent more than ten percent of the school year, regardless of the absence being excused or unexcused, that is considered chronic absenteeism. Chronic absenteeism in the elementary grades predicts higher absence rates in subsequent grades, it also puts children at risk for dropping out of high school (Chang & Romero, 2008). This study addresses chronic absenteeism at an intermediate charter school through the use of restorative circles. Restorative circles are a restorative practice that builds community through dialogue. “Restorative Practices build community and can help set things right when the integrity of the community is challenged by harmful behaviors” (Clifford, nd, p. 3). In restorative circles, students are empowered, relationships are fostered and there is accountability (Knight & Wadhwa, 2014). This study used a mixed-methodology approach through examining each classroom teacher’s attendance data and through the administration of a teacher survey. Based on the results of the survey, teachers were grouped as restorative and non-restorative and absentee rates were analyzed. The researcher presents results that show teachers who have been trained in restorative practices and use restorative circles in their classroom have the lowest absentee rates on average (3.77%) while teachers who use restorative circles in their classroom without restorative practices training had the nearly double the absentee rates on average (6.23%).