The majority of local high schools saw their students miss an average of about one full day of class every two weeks during the 2007-08 school year, according to statistics from the Halifax Regional School Board.
The board received attendance figures from each of its schools, and when it came to its high schools, students in nine of the 15 schools missed on average more than 10 per cent of classes for 2007-08.
Not all of those days missed are because of sickness - some are because students skipped class.
The school board doesn’t have specific numbers of unexcused absences, only, “anecdotal evidence that (school staff) believe that there are students missing for no explained reason,” said board spokesman Doug Hadley.
He said many schools have exam exemption policies - students with good attendance become eligible to be exempted from exams - but little else when it comes to attendance guidelines.
“It’s the carrot and the stick approach,” Hadley said. “We need to have more than one strategy to be able to encourage students to be in school.”
He said one problem is principals “can’t remove them from being a student if they choose not to be in school”, and from that, they don’t know when these kids will show up.
As students get set for their summer break, the Department of Education has created a committee to address absenteeism in schools.
Committee member Howard Windsor said the committee will be talking to provincial school boards and researching policies in other jurisdictions.
They will also look at an online survey completed by people involved in the Nova Scotia school system, including students themselves.
Windsor said almost 2,000 people have completed the survey so far. The committee will look at the survey and its research to create a report for Education Minister Marilyn More by September.