Brookings’ Evidence Speaks series featured an article by Susanna Loeb and Jing Liu describing the effects of teacher engagement on students’ later life outcomes. The article explains that teachers who keep their students engaged are more likely to have students attend their classes, which leads to higher graduation rates. Research shows that absence rates double between middle and high school in the U.S., due to multiple factors including difficulty getting to school, students’ preferring to work to bring in money, and the unpleasantness of being in certain classes. Many students only miss partial days of school, skipping classes that are either too difficult or too easy.
In order to isolate the effects of individual teachers on student attendance, Loeb and Liu examined teachers’ abilities to engage with students as measured by class-period absence rates versus whole-day absence rates. They found that
- Teachers who improved their students’ class-period attendance rates, and therefore were deemed engaging teachers, were a positive influence on these students’ graduation rates.
- However, teachers who were deemed as engaging didn’t necessarily improve test scores.
- The teachers who improved test scores didn’t necessarily improve attendance.
Given that higher attendance rates lead to higher graduation rates, the researchers recommend that the same policies governing the development of teaching practices to improve student achievement could also lead to improvement in student engagement by making attendance one of the Every Student Succeeds Act indicators. This would act as an impetus to states to examine what classroom strategies increase student engagement and directly teach student engagement practices to educators.
Source (Open access): Liu, J., & Loeb, S. (2016) Going to school is optional: Schools need to engage students to increase their lifetime opportunities. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/research/going-to-school-is-optional-schools-need-to-engage-students-to-increase-their-lifetime-opportunities/?utm_campaign=Brookings+Brief&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=36627126%20-%20_edn1