Attendance Awareness

Why Chronic Absence Matter

Absenteeism, especially truancy or skipping school, has always been a focus in schools where principals recognize the connection to poor performance and dropout rates.  showed that the ill effects of chronic absence extend to kindergarten and elementary school students. 

Chronic absence in kindergarten was associated with lower academic performance in first grade for any student, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. 

This is not a small problem, since the study found that one in 10 of the nation’s kindergarten and first-grade students was chronically absent. Other studies have shown that these students are more likely to fall short of attaining reading proficiency by the third grade and more likely to have poor attendance in later years.

Thus these early absences have consequences for secondary school principals, contributing to academic weaknesses and poor attendance habits that compound the intractable nature of chronic absenteeism as students progress into middle and high school. 

Chronic absenteeism begins to rise in middle school and continues climbing through 12th grade. A Baltimore study found a strong relationship between sixth-grade attendance and on-time graduation rates. Chronic absence in middle school is one of the best indicators we have that a student will drop out later. A study in Utah found that students who were chronically absent in any year between eighth and 12th grades were 7.5 times more likely to drop out of high school.

Most recently, an analysis by the National Assessment of Educational Progress found that absences had consequences for fourth- and eighth-graders: 56% of eighth-graders who performed at the advanced level in NAEP reading in 2011 had perfect attendance in the month before the test, compared with 39% of students who performed below the basic level; in contrast, nearly one in five eighth-grade students at the basic level and more than one in four below basic in reading had missed three or more days in the previous month. The trends were similar for fourth graders.