Every Student Present
Every Student Present sheds light on the issue of chronic absence by describing what it is, explaining how it impacts students and highlighting approaches that schools, families and communities can use to reduce chronic absence.
Too many students are missing too many days of school. This means they are also missing instruction and falling behind in school. Each year, approximately one in ten students miss 10 percent or more school days. In some cases, particularly in kindergarten and first grade, as many as 4 in 10 students will miss about a month of school, jeopardizing their academic success.
The reduction of chronic absence is an essential part of successful school improvement. It is well understood, both intuitively and empirically, that improvements in curricula and classroom teaching will not yield positive results unless students are in school. Research has taught us that:
- Chronic absence is related to lower test scores and higher dropout rates for students at all income levels;
- By sixth grade, chronic absence is one of three early warning signs that a student will drop out of high school; and,
- By ninth grade, attendance can be a better indicator of dropout than eighth grade test scores.
What is chronic absence?
Chronic absence is when students are absent for 10% or more school days. This includes excused and unexcused absences.
What is the impact of chronic absence?
Various research studies have shown that chronic absence is detrimental for students at all grade levels and all income levels. Students who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are less likely to be able to read at grade level. By sixth grade, chronic absence is one of three early warning signs that a student will drop out of high school; by ninth grade, attendance can be a better indicator of dropout than eighth grade test scores.
How does chronic absence differ from average daily attendance or truancy?
Chronic absence refers to the portion of students missing at least 10% of school days for any reason (excused or unexcused) and in any timeframe (consecutive or non-consecutive days). In contrast, average daily attendance refers to the percent of enrolled students who attend school each day. This could mean that a large number of the students miss a few days of school or that a small number of students miss many days of school. Average daily attendance masks chronic absence since we don’t know what the circumstances are behind the rate. Truancy refers only to the number of unexcused absences. Yet, we know that missing instruction can impede learning, regardless of whether it is due to an excused or unexcused absence.