Attendance and absence in New Zealand schools 2002

Publication Details

This report documents the results of a survey of all state and state integrated schools in New Zealand carried out in 2002, designed to capture student attendance and absence over one week. It also reports on schools' practices of monitoring attendance and using truancy or tracking services.

Author(s): Robert Cosgrave, Fred Bishop and Ngaire Bennie, Research Division, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: 2003

Executive Summary

This survey was conducted early in September of 2002 to capture a `week in the life' of attendance at school in New Zealand. Responses were received from 2,195 schools, representing 86 percent of schools surveyed.

On a daily basis, while the vast majority of students attend school, findings from the survey indicated an overall absence rate of 8.7 percent, with a truancy rate (one of the components of absence) of 2.9 percent. Rates across the different school sectors differed - secondary schools experienced an absence rate of 11.9 percent and a truancy rate of 6.0 percent, composite schools 8.8 percent and 2.4 percent respectively, primary schools 7.2 percent and 1.4 percent, and intermediate schools 7.2 percent and 1.8 percent.

Patterns in absences were similar to those evident in earlier surveys. In 2002, overall absence and truancy in secondary schools was slightly lower than that experienced in the 1996 survey (carried out at the same time of the year as the current survey), and slightly higher than in the 1998 survey (carried out at a different time of the year). In primary schools, the truancy rate in 2002 was the same as in 1998, although overall absence was slightly higher possibly due to the survey in 2002 being carried out at a time of the year when winter illnesses were more prevalent. In intermediate schools, both overall absence and truancy were higher in 2002 than in 1998, but the truancy rate similar to that experienced in 1996. While the truancy rate in composite schools for each of the three years was relatively constant, the overall absence rate was lower in 2002 than in 1998, but not as low as that experienced in 1996. Differences in absence rates were also evident in the 2002 data for different students, schools and the days of the week.

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