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Both in an academic and social context, youth experience decreased engagement and ability if they are chronically absent from school. Out-of-School Time (OST) programs can implement measures to boost students' school-day attendance rates, thus improving their likelihood of success in school and life.


The number of kindergarten students who miss almost a month of school every year. In some districts, the number is up to 1 in 3.


The amount of school day absences a kindergartener needs to guarantee lower academic performance by 1st grade.

5th Grade

The grade in which chronic absence in kindergarten translates into lower achievement, especially for low-income students.

Source: The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Featured Resource — Every Student, Every Day Initiative

Every Student, Every Day: A National Initiative to Address and Eliminate Chronic Absenteeism was launched in October 2015 in response to the President's My Brother's Keeper Initiative (MBK) and the U.S. Departments of Education (ED), Health and Human Services (HHS), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Justice (DOJ). With the belief that solving chronic absence is possible, these members are pushing for coalition-building among diverse stakeholders to find and implement methods of engaging chronically absent youth. This initiative is intended to support collaborative efforts towards addressing the underlying causes of local chronic absenteeism which impacts millions of children throughout the country each year. It provides key resources including:

A Dear Colleague Letter to States, School Districts and Community calling for policy change and emphasizing the need to reduce chronic absenteeism by at least 10% each year.

A Community Toolkit to Address and Eliminate Chronic Absenteeism which provides information, suggestions for action steps, and lists of tools and resources that individuals, leaders, and systems can use to initiate or improve work around addressing and eliminating chronic absenteeism in communities through collaborative action.

An Every Student, Every Day Virtual Summit which was hosted by United Way Worldwide, the U.S. Department of Education, Attendance Works, and the Everybody Graduates Center in November 2015. View the PowerPoint presentation from the virtual summit here, or watch the recording here.


research on chronic absenteeism

Mapping the Early Attendance Gap: Charting a Course for Student Success (2015)
This report from the Healthy Schools Campaign and Attendance Works examines reasons for the gap in school attendance rates, which starts as early as preschool and kindergarten. It examines how this disparity in attendance contributes to high school dropout rates and the overarching achievement gap in schools throughout the country. The report also looks into how states can tackle absenteeism through engaging key stakeholders, leveraging data, and using examples of successful tactics. Read the Executive Summary here, or check out the September 2015 Webinar by watching the recording here or viewing the PowerPoint here.

Attendance Works' Attendance in the Early Grades Infographic (2014)
This infographic from Attendance Works depicts absenteeism in early grades, why it matters, and what people can do to combat it.

Building a Culture of Attendance: Schools and Afterschool Programs Together Can and Should Make a Difference! (2013)
This article profiles the successful creation of a shared goal of increasing attendance between an OST program– SHINE (Schools and Homes in Education) Afterschool Program– and local schools in rural Pennsylvania and Baltimore. It explains the need for collaborative goals and actions like this, and the reasons that SHINE experienced such a great deal of success in increasing school-day attendance. The article ends with a list of five key ways schools and afterschool programs need to work together, according to Attendance Works, to increase attendance.

Race Matters in Early School Attendance (2013)
From the Race Matters Institute, this article explores the higher prevalence of chronic absence with Latino and African-American students. It shares barriers that contribute to this issue and proposes effective actions to close racial gap, in addition to sharing a case example.

Meeting the Challenge of Combating Chronic Absenteeism: Impact of the NYC Major's Interagency Task Force on Chronic Absenteeism and School Attendance and its Implications for Other Cities (2013)
This report by the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Education examines the outcomes of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s task force on truancy, chronic absenteeism and school engagement. This study found that students who met the definition of chronic absenteeism (missing at
least 20 days of school per year) received lower grades and were more likely to drop out than those with better attendance. However, it also proved that these effects of absenteeism are reversible when there are awareness campaigns, incentives, and the help of mentors.

The Importance of Being in School: A Report on Absenteeism in the Nation's Public Schools (2012)
This report by the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Education examines the best approaches to combat chronic absenteeism through analyzing all available data on chronic absenteeism at the state level. It maps the characteristics of students who are chronically absent, compares that data to state and national  findings, and draws conclusions for best practices for combating chronic absenteeism on multiple levels. It concludes with policy recommendations.

Present, Engaged, and Accounted For: The Critical Importance of Addressing Chronic Absence in the Early Grades (2008)
This article from the National Center for Children in Poverty focuses on early grade absence and the long-term impact that has on youth success. It examines the many intersecting factors that contribute to early grade absence and proposes potential interventions. Although dated, the information it shares is still relevant.


tools to decrease absenteeism

Count Us In!: Working Together to Show That Every School Day Matters (2019)
This Toolkit from Attendance Works includes tools to help plan and implement a successful Attendance Awareness Month in September. It has information on the importance of attendance, the current state of absenteeism in the country, "what to do when" to prepare for Attendance Awareness Month, key stakeholders to engage in the movement, and more.


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