Student Achievement

Absent From School

August 09, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Japan is known far and wide for maintaining a rigorous and effective public education system. But a significant number of students are less than enamored with it. A new report from the country’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology shows that the number of students refusing to attend school is rising for the first time in five years.

The Japan Times reports in this story that “a record 138,696 elementary and junior high school students were absent from school for at least 30 days without good reason during the school year that ended in March.”

That’s a minute percentage of the younger students, but about 3 percent of adolescents are abandoning schooling in a country where education is highly valued and viewed as the only road to prosperity.

The report lists a number of reasons absentees gave for staying away, including delinquency, bullying, relationship and mental health issues, and apathy.

Several years ago the government began instituting significant curriculum reforms to address concerns that schools were not preparing students to succeed in an economy that rewards innovation and creativity. I was there on assignment to report on the changes—which included a 30 percent reduction in content, introduction of integrated courses, and elimination of the time-honored tradition of Saturday school. They were prompted, in part, by a floundering economy and concerns that too many students were becoming more stressed and despondent. Surveys at the time had shown that about half of students did not enjoy school or see the purpose in studying hard.

The changes were controversial, and some parents began sending their children to cram schools to ensure they were learning the essentials. But there was also a sense that focusing on developing the whole student would also have its benefits.

Alas, some cities and towns have rolled back those reforms, citing declining test scores and concerns among parents that their children were not being properly prepared for university exams and careers.

I wonder if the reforms—or the move back to the traditional curriculum—had any effect on students’ satisfaction or dissatisfaction with school.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attend to the Whole Child: Non-Academic Factors within MTSS
Learn strategies for proactively identifying and addressing non-academic barriers to student success within an MTSS framework.
Content provided by Renaissance
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum How to Teach Digital & Media Literacy in the Age of AI
Join this free event to dig into crucial questions about how to help students build a foundation of digital literacy.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Achievement Spotlight Spotlight on Secondary Intervention
This Spotlight will help you measure the connection between tutoring, attendance, better test scores, and more.
Student Achievement Opinion Does Getting Rid of the 'Zero' Fuel Grade Inflation?
Not everyone thinks this student grading practice is a good idea, including some researchers and educators.
9 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Student Achievement What the Research Says How to Get Summer School Right (Hint: It’s Not Just About Academics)
A new study finds a blend of remedial and enrichment activities may improve summer programs' attendance and their effectiveness.
6 min read
Teacher Monica Villegas, an exchange teacher from Mexico, instructs students at the Twin Falls School District's migrant summer school at Oregon Trail Elementary School in Twin Falls, Idaho, on June 1, 2016. A migrant summer school helps fill education gaps while keeping children out of farm fields.
Teacher Monica Villegas, an exchange teacher from Mexico, instructs students at the Twin Falls School District's migrant summer school at Oregon Trail Elementary School in Twin Falls, Idaho, on June 1, 2016. A migrant summer school helps fill education gaps while keeping children out of farm fields.
Stephen Reiss/The Times-News via AP
Student Achievement Opinion How Winning the National Spelling Bee Prepared Me for High School
Studying for the bee was overwhelming at times, but the academic and emotional benefits have been invaluable, writes 9th grader Dev Shah.
Dev Shah
4 min read
 Lots arrows missed hitting target mark and only one hits the center. If at first you don't succeed, try again!
Vanessa Solis/Education Week + iStock/Getty Images