Smart policy and implementation can ensure schools and communities collect, monitor and share attendance data. They also can motivate key stakeholders to work together to promote a culture of regular school attendance and intervene when chronic absence is a problem.

Policymakers at all levels should consider the following provisions whether they are participating in early education or K-12 education.

Policies Targeting Families and Children Before School
  • Track and monitor levels of absence by individual students in pre-K.

  • Use high levels of early grade chronic absence to inform plans for allocating preschool & early care resources.

  • Use early childhood programs to promote good attendance by increasing parent awareness of the importance of attendance, helping families overcome barriers to attendance and develop the routines for regular on-time attendance.

  • Create incentives for preschools to address poor attendance and tardiness.

Policies Targeting School Children and their Families
  • Adopt a standard definition of chronic absence: missing 10 percent or more of school days.

  • Track absences in longitudinal student data systems.

  • Calculate and report on chronic absence by district, school, grade and sub-group.

  • Establish school and district attendance teams to review chronic absence - as well as other key attendance data including average daily attendance, truancy and good attendance (missing 5 percent or less of school) - to inform strategies to reduce chronic absence.

  • Address improved attendance in school improvement plans.

  • Use the prevalence of chronic absence to identify schools in need of relevant community resources such as pre-K education, afterschool programs, health care and insurance, food & nutrition, affordable housing, free tax preparation and Earned Income Tax Credit outreach.

Advocating for better public policy can take a variety of forms, including building awareness of the importance of chronic absence, influencing policy implementation, seeking regulatory change and advancing legislation.