Edtech vs. Absenteeism: Encouraging Attendance Through Engaging Classrooms

EpsonFebruary 16, 2024

Student absenteeism has reached a critical point, even after the return to in-person instruction. In 2018-19, chronic absenteeism was 15%. In 2021-22, that rate doubled to 30%. Research indicates that the increase was ongoing in 2023.

This hike in absenteeism comes at a time when teachers are working to help students recover from pandemic learning losses. But students can’t recover if they’re not in the classroom to learn. With multiple factors impacting student absenteeism – many of which are beyond a teacher’s control – neither the causes nor the solutions are simple.

Despite that, teachers play a pivotal role in encouraging student attendance. Using savvy teacher strategies and motivating education technology, teachers can create a welcoming and engaging classroom that makes students want to attend school.

Understanding the complexities of chronic absenteeism

Most students miss a day of school occasionally, but when they are chronically absent, missing roughly 18-20 days in a school year, they miss out on significant learning opportunities.

That loss of learning isn’t limited to the current lesson plan, although research shows that chronic absenteeism impacts grades and performance on standardized tests.

But the effect is long-lasting. Students who miss school frequently in the early grades are four times more likely to drop out of high school. What’s more, students who are chronically absent between 8th and 12th grades are seven times more likely to drop out.

Students can be absent from school for multiple reasons beyond their control, such as illness, unreliable transportation, or family responsibilities. To address these factors, schools, educators, parents, and communities must work together to create solutions that address the root issues.

Beyond absences stemming from external barriers, students also miss school when they are not engaged in the classroom. Teachers recognize they can change this dynamic. Many use all of their resources, tools, and experience daily to create interactive, engaging classrooms — ones in which students look forward to attending and learning.

Here are some of the tips, tricks, and strategies that help classroom educators create effective learning environments that draw students in.

Build and maintain a supportive classroom culture. Almost everyone has a fond memory of their favorite teacher — the one who saw their potential and encouraged them. Teachers can’t be everyone’s favorite, but they can try to connect with each student. When they do, teachers can recognize students’ struggles earlier, perhaps before they miss school.

When students miss school, teachers can approach those absences with empathy so it’s easier for students when they return. Although chronic absences can be frustrating to teachers, if students feel the sting of that frustration, they are even less likely to return.

A positive classroom culture goes beyond the teacher-student bond. They encourage students to take chances as they learn, even if the students make mistakes along the way.

Create a physical layout that enhances inclusion and involvement. Research indicates that the layout of the classroom impacts academic outcomes. That makes sense, as the arrangement of furniture and equipment in the room can create inclusivity or siloes. Rows of desks create a structure where the students in the back can’t see the presentations — and don’t feel seen or involved.

Teachers can arrange areas of the classroom for various purposes. Learning pods can encourage collaboration and discussion, while desks support working individually.

An active learning classroom model puts the teacher’s desk in the middle of the classroom and uses wall-to-wall whiteboards and collaborative seating to create side-by-side learning versus the typical teacher-in-front approach.

When deciding the layout, also consider the environmental aspects of the classroom:

  • Is there one spot by the air vent that blows hot or cold air?
  • Is a seat next to classroom equipment noisy and distracting?
  • Does the layout make it difficult to walk around the room as needed?
  • Are there areas of the classroom where students can’t see the board or projected display?

By examining the classroom layout from every seat and every angle, teachers can arrange the physical layout that reinforces the intended learning.

“Chunk” and vary lesson design. Students’ attention spans are low. Keeping them interested in classroom activities requires a commitment to planning and presentation.

Consider “chunking” twenty-minute lessons into shorter segments of five or ten minutes. This helps students focus and retain information. Alter lectures with segments for discussion, reflection, short quizzes and thought starters.

Bring new voices into the classroom to reinforce the lessons. Use appropriate news programs and videos related to lessons and share them with the class via the projector.

Use voices already in the classroom by having students present information to the class. One middle school teacher said she invites students to share math answers in front of the class. “It’s a safe atmosphere and builds confidence,” she explained. Students are also more attentive because they know they may be called on.



Strategically use technology and tools to boost interaction and engagement. Draw on the burgeoning resources of education technology to increase engagement and help with absenteeism. Most teachers agree that using edtech improves learning outcomes. Unsurprisingly, edtech enhances active learning, which contributes to improved classroom performance. One study found, for example, on average, students in traditional lecture courses are 1.5 times more likely to fail than students in courses with active learning.

One essential technology teachers use to increase engagement is projectors. Today’s displays can help teachers bring the world into the classroom, enhance interactivity, and even help students feel immersed in the story or lesson. With a simple connection to the internet, students can explore a far-off location on Google Maps, or see the artwork of a pioneering American painter come to life, or experience a geometry problem solved in 3-D. Modern projectors help students see big, clear, bright projections from virtually anywhere in the classroom, so they can interact throughout the lesson.

Projectors are just one example of how edtech tools can increase engagement. Teachers use numerous apps and other technology tools to give students variety and new perspectives, fueling curiosity and the desire to learn.

Teachers aren’t expected to solve chronic absenteeism alone — it takes the proverbial village. But in the meantime, classroom educators can make inroads by using thoughtful approaches that ensure students feel connected and welcome. Then, by using edtech tools that boost interactivity and engagement, teachers can help make their classrooms the place every student wants to be.

Learn more about education displays for classrooms that can help foster engagement and strong learning outcomes. Visit today.