Tackling truancy has a dramatic impact on student attainment, a report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has found.
High-performing school systems, such as those in Japan and in Shanghai, China, have relatively low truancy rates, according to the OECD, which runs the influential Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa).
On average, 18 per cent of students skipped at least one class and 15 per cent missed an entire day in the two weeks before the last round of Pisa tests in 2012, the report says. In Argentina, more than 40 per cent of students missed at least one day, while just 0.6 per cent in Shanghai skipped a day.
The OECD report shows that, on average, children who skipped one or two days of school in the two weeks before the tests gained scores of 52 points lower than those who did not miss any school in that time.
Pisa has found that schools can help to reduce truancy by improving the disciplinary climate in classrooms. Students who got on with their teachers and felt they were listened to were less likely to play truant.
Maths scores of non-truants and truants
Mean score of students who were ever-present in the two weeks before the Pisa tests, compared with the mean score of those who skipped one or two days
404 - 391
519 - 482
520 - 474
566 - 499
476 - 460
539 - 461
556 - 433
614 - 532
485 - 423
445 - 443
502 - 469
488 - 467
TRUANCY BY COUNTRY
Percentage of students skipping one or two days of school in the two weeks before the Pisa tests
Source: Pisa in Focus 35, bit.lypisainfocus35jan14.