Children in kindergarten and first grade are missing more school than at any other point during the elementary years. Some research has examined schoolwide policies and practices that might help reduce absences, but limited research has focused on the role of teachers. This is the first known study to examine the role teacher preparation programs play in teachers’ perceptions of and knowledge about policy and practices to address absenteeism.
This study found that: (a) novice teachers (defined in this study as the teachers surveyed in the summer months after graduating from their teacher preparation programs but before starting their classroom teaching assignments) who entered kindergarten or first grade classrooms reported greater knowledge of chronic absenteeism when they thought their licensure requirement and placements prepared them well to teach; (b) teachers felt better prepared to address absenteeism with specific practices when they reported receiving more support from their teacher preparation program supervisors; and (c) novice second through fifth grade teachers do not report feeling better prepared to address absenteeism when they receive support from their teacher preparation program supervisors. This is meaningful given that teachers who feel the most prepared to address absenteeism are entering classrooms with greater absences. This study also offers motivation to consider how new teachers can be prepared to interface with parents of young children about state early education policies.