Attendance Matters

Attendance MattersAttending school regularly is essential to students gaining the academic, social and emotional skills they need to thrive. Chronic absence, no matter its cause, has real life consequences for students, families and society as a whole. Research shows starting as early as preschool and kindergarten, chronic absence—missing 10% of the academic year—can leave third graders unable to read proficiently, sixth graders struggling with coursework and high school students off track for graduation.*

Prior to the pandemic, 8 million students were affected by chronic absence. Today chronic absence has more than doubled. Students of color, those living in poverty, those with disabilities and English language learners have tended to be especially affected. Chronic absence, which involves monitoring when and which students miss too much school for any reason, is different from truancy (unexcused absences) or average daily attendance (how many students typically show up each day to school.)

Reducing absenteeism is an essential, but often overlooked, strategy for responding strategically to the academic and social-emotional loss experienced by millions of students. School and district attendance data can be used to identify which student groups have lost out most on opportunities to learn during the pandemic and ensure they are prioritized in recovery planning. Effective strategies to improve attendance can benefit the entire community.

The good news is that chronic absence can be significantly reduced when schools, families and community partners work together to monitor data, nurture a culture of engagement, promote regular attendance and routines, and address hurdles that keep children from getting to school every day, such as lack of access to food, clothing and health care; unhealthy environmental conditions, unreliable transportation, housing instability or the lack of safe paths to school.

* A growing body of research has shown the prevalence of chronic absence, its critical role in student achievement, and how it can be addressed. Access a research summary:


Chronic Absenteeism in the Nation's Schools
— US Department of Education

Advancing Student Success by Reducing Chronic Absence
Attendance Works