Additional Attendance Indicators
Additional attendance indicators have been introduced around the actions taken by schools to identify and respond to absence.
The Ministry is focused on working with the sector to improve the quality, consistency, understanding and use of attendance data. More accurate attendance data can help schools intervene quickly where student attendance patterns change.
As signalled in the Attendance and Engagement Strategy, additional attendance indicators have been introduced to record:
- Learners with 5 or more full days unjustified absence in a term
- If action has been taken for learners unjustifiably absent for 5 or more full days
- Absences remaining unexplained at the end of each week
These additional indicators work to understand the actions taken by schools to respond to student absences and the timeliness of their efforts to address this absence.
The ‘Learners with 5 or more full days unjustified absence in a term’ and ‘Absences remaining unexplained at the end of each week’ indicators remain exploratory. Consideration is being given to understand the initial findings to ensure that the reported information accurately reflects the intent of the indicators.
The Ministry uses data from schools' Student Management Systems (SMS) to calculate the indicators and we won’t publish any individual schools’ rates publicly.
- Data for the first and third indicator has been collected since Term 2 2023 and is being reported alongside the existing Term 2 Education Indicator reports.
- The second additional indicator started in Term 3, 2023, with formal reporting starting in Term 2, 2024.
- SMS providers have now removed the automated re-coding of Unknown absences into Truant after a defined period of time.
Succeed at the additional indicators - user guide
A user guide has been designed to support schools’ implementation of the additional attendance indicators. It is designed for use by principals and administration teams who record learner absence in their school SMS. The user guide also provides best practice advice for engaging with parents/whanau to identify the reasons for a learner’s absence and put in place processes to record the reasons in your SMS prior to the end of the school week.
Learners with 5 or more full days unjustified absence in a term
What the indicator is
Percentage of students who are unjustifiably absent for 5 or more full days in a term.
This indicator focuses on the number of students accruing five or more full days of unjustified absence during a term.
This is different from our existing attendance categories, as it focuses only on those absences which are considered “unjustified”, for example, truancy and holidays during term time. Our existing categories are based on all absences, including those due to sickness and other unavoidable absences.
While all absences mean learners are missing opportunities to learn, this indicator focuses on those learners most likely to become persistently absent.
A low percentage will indicate that the school has a low number of students absent for 5 full unjustified days in a term. Where the percentage is higher, it may indicate that there are greater barriers to attendance.
Indicator if action has been taken for learners unjustifiable absent for 5 or more full days
What the indicator is
Percentage of students who are unjustifiably absent for 5 or more full days in a term where their school has initiated intervention in a timely fashion.
This indicator seeks to demonstrate the extent to which schools are responding before or soon after students reach the threshold of five full days of unjustified absence.
While we expect all schools will have processes in place to respond to frequent absences, the recording of this process and the specified thresholds are new. For some schools this may require changes to when responses are initiated, and for all schools it will require a minor addition to reporting practices.
Absences remaining unexplained at the end of each week
What the indicator is
Percentage of absences that are unexplained at the end of the week in which the absence occurred.
This indicator focuses on schools identifying reasons for absence in a timely fashion to demonstrate the extent to which schools quickly understand and record the reasons for all absences.
This indicator looks at the use of the “? – Unknown” attendance code, which is the default reason recorded if a learner is absent and the school does not have information as to why. This code should be updated once an explanation has been obtained from a parent or caregiver (for example if a student is unwell).
A low percentage signals contact systems between schools and parents/whānau are in place and working well. Schools with a higher percentage indicates that the school may need more support with identifying and tracking why learners are absent from school.
As the indicator is exploratory, we want to ensure we are accurately capturing and reporting on the intent of the indicator. At this time, you will see two sets of data in the termly reporting while we determine what is the best reflection of the indicator (full week and only absences reported on Mondays and Tuesdays).
What is an unjustified absence?
An absence is unjustified when it is coded as ‘T’, ‘G’, or ‘E’, or still has a ‘?’.
What is the difference between the "School intervention and Unexplained absence Indicators?'
- The School intervention indicator is about getting an explanation for the absence from the parents and recording it with the appropriate code – either a justified absence code or an unjustified absence code.
- The Unexplained absence indicator is not about following up with the parents to find out the reason/explanation for absence – that is what Indicator 1 is about.
- The Unexplained absence indicator is about the school making a response/intervention when a student has accumulated 5 days of unjustified absence.
Can a student require a response for being on holiday during term time?
If a student has met the ‘5 days unjustified’ threshold because they were absent on holiday during term time, this requires a response from the school. It is up to the school to decide what the appropriate intervention should be.
A holiday is not a good enough reason for parents to take a child out of school, so holidays should be planned outside of term time. Information on the Ministry’s position and advice for parents on why ‘every day matters’ can be found at Parents.govt.nz(external link).
The same applies to absences coded E. This code is to be used when an explanation has been accepted by the school as the real reason for the student's absence (ie, it is not a "throwaway" explanation), however that explanation is not a justified reason for being absent. This means that an E code absence counts towards the 5 day threshold for intervention.
These Minister briefings are being proactively released about work to develop the proposed attendance measures in the Attendance and Engagement Strategy.
- BN1314679 [PDF, 824 KB] Attendance and Engagement Strategy - Progress on the implementation of additional measures and the evaluation
- BN1303573 [PDF, 838 KB] Attendance and Engagement: Progress update on new measures (unexplained and unjustified absences)
- BN1301234 [PDF, 1.5 MB] Redacted Attendance and Engagement: Progress update on measuring the actions taken by schools in response to student absence
Further information and support
Please contact your Te Mahau office in the first instance for further information and support.
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