Below is a list of key research related to attendance. For the full list of reports, please visit the All Research page (see column at left for additional categories).
- Preventing Missed Opportunity: Taking Collective Action to Confront Chronic Absence, Attendance Works and Everyone Graduates Center, September 2016. This brief builds on the first national chronic absence data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection from the 2013-14 school year. The analysis finds that half of the 6.5 million students who are chronically absent nationwide are concentrated in just 4 percent of school districts. The analysis also shows that chronic absenteeism follows poverty wherever it is found in significant concentrations. Given the scope of the problem, the brief lays out key steps school districts and states can take to turn around chronic absenteeism by using real time data to trigger collective action to ensure every child has the opportunity to achieve in school.
- Chang, Hedy and Romero, Mariajose, Present, Engaged and Accounted For: The Critical Importance of Addressing Chronic Absence in the Early Grades, National Center for Children in Poverty, New York, NY, September 2008. This report documents the consequences, prevalence, potential causes and possible solutions to children missing extended periods of school in grades K-3rd. Although students must be present and engaged to learn, thousands of this country’s youngest students are academically at-risk because of extended absences when they first embark upon their school careers. Nationally, an estimated one in 10 kindergarten and first grade students are chronically absent. The report recommends that schools, communities and families monitor and promote attendance, as well as to identify and address barriers to good attendance.
- Ginsburg, Alan, Phyllis Jordan and Hedy Chang, Absences Add Up: How School Attendance Influences Student Success, Attendance Works, August 2014. This state-by-state analysis of national testing data demonstrates that students who miss more school than their peers consistently score lower on standardized tests, a result that holds true at every age, in every demographic group, and in every state and city tested. The analysis is based on the results of the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). It compares attendance rates and NAEP scores for every state and for 21 large urban areas.
- Mapping the Early Attendance Gap: Charting a Course for Student Success. Attendance Works & Healthy Schools Campaign, September 2015. This report shows how disparities in school attendance rates starting as early as preschool and kindergarten are contributing to achievement gaps and high school dropout rates across the country. The report also highlights the connection between health and attendance and the power of states to tackle absenteeism by tapping key champions, leveraging data, and learning from places that have improved attendance despite challenging conditions.
- Balfanz, Robert, and Vaughan Byrnes, The Importance of Being in School: A Report on Absenteeism in the Nation’s Public Schools. Johns Hopkins University Center for Social Organization of Schools, Baltimore, Md., 2012. This report analyzes data on chronic absenteeism at the state level to begin the process of mapping its extent and characteristics. Although currently only a handful of states collect data on chronic absenteeism, results from a sample of states suggest that an estimated 10-15% of students in the U.S. are chronically absent each year. The report also highlights some promising practices among cities, school districts and nonprofits to combat chronic absenteeism. The authors offer policy recommendations on tracking and reporting chronic absence data and evidence-based interventions.
- Bruner, Charles, Anne Discher and Hedy Chang, Chronic Elementary Absenteeism: A Problem Hidden in Plain Sight, Child and Family Policy Center and Attendance Works, November 2011. This study confirms the premise that districts and schools may fail to detect high levels of chronic absence because the problem is easily masked by average daily attendance, one of the most commonly calculated attendance measures. While many educators assume a 95 percent ADA rate is an indicator of good attendance, the authors find that is can sometimes mask a problem with chronic absence.
- Epstein, J. L. and Sheldon, S. B., Present and accounted for: Improving student attendance through family and community involvement, Journal of Educational Research, 95, 308-318, 2002. This study discusses the results of a longitudinal data analysis of schools’ rates of daily student attendance and chronic absenteeism and specific partnership practices that were implemented to help increase or sustain student attendance. The data suggest that schools may be able to increase student attendance in elementary school by implementing specific family and community involvement activities.
Early Education and Elementary
- Attendance in Early Elementary Grades: Association with Student Characteristics, School Readiness and Third Grade Outcomes, Applied Survey Research, May 2011. This study suggests that attendance in the early grades is critical to sustaining the school readiness skills that preschool or Head Start programs can help children to develop. The report found that students who arrived at school academically ready to learn— but then missed 10 percent of their kindergarten and first grade years—scored an average of 60 points below similar students with good attendance on third-grade reading tests.
- Connolly, Faith and Olson, Linda S., Early Elementary Performance and Attendance in Baltimore City Schools’ Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten, Baltimore Education Research Consortium, Baltimore, Md., March 2012. This brief looks at attendance in the early grades with particular focus on Pre-Kindergarten (PreK) and Kindergarten (K) and follows these young students over time. The study finds that students with low attendance in both PreK and K often continue to have low attendance, are more likely to be retained by grade 3 and on average have lower academic outcomes than peers with better attendance. The impact can be minimized, however, by improved attendance in later grades. Head Start students began with and maintained high rates of attendance compared with comparable students. They initially underperformed in reading and math but by Grade 3, they performed as well as their peers on the state assessment.
- Ehrlich, Stacy B. et al. Preschool Attendance in Chicago Public Schools: Relationships with Learning Outcomes and Reasons for Absences, University of Chicago, Consortium on Chicago School Research, May 2014. This report highlights the critical importance of consistent preschool attendance. Students who attend preschool regularly are significantly more likely than chronically absent preschoolers to be ready for kindergarten and to attend school regularly in later grades, the report finds. The study, which follows 25,000 three- and four-year-olds served by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) school-based preschool programs, finds that chronic absenteeism is rampant among preschoolers in Chicago. In 2011-2012, almost half of 3-year-olds and more than one-third of 4-year-olds missed at least 10 percent of the school year.
- Nauer, Kim et al, A Better Picture of Poverty: What Chronic Absenteeism and Risk Load Reveal About NYC’s Lowest-Income Elementary Schools, Center for New York City Affairs at the New School, November 2014. This report looks closely at New York City’s schools and documents the risk factors that plague struggling schools. Researchers found that more than 87,000 New York City children from kindergarten through third grade missed 10 percent or more of the school year in 2012-13. That number is down from 2008, when the New School released its first report on chronic absence. That report spurred then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg to launch an intensive pilot program in 100 schools to improve attendance. The rate of chronic absenteeism in elementary schools declined from 23 percent in 2009 to 19 percent 2013. The report went beyond student data to identify 130 schools were more than a third of students were chronically absent for five straight years. These schools had a few things in common: Scores on standardized tests for reading and math were far below the city averages. And many of the students lived in deep poverty with high rates of homelessness, child abuse reports and male unemployment.
- Ready, Douglas D., Socioeconomic Disadvantage, School Attendance, and Early Cognitive Development, The Differential Effects of School Exposure, Sociology of Education, October 2010. Despite the substantial body of research documenting strong relationships between social class and children’s cognitive abilities, researchers have generally neglected the extent to which school absenteeism exacerbates social class differences in academic development among young children. This study suggests that missing school in the early grades has a more powerful influence on literacy development for low-income students than it does for their more affluent peers. Put another way, school matters more to children from low-income families.
- Allensworth, E. M., and Easton, J. Q., What Matters for Staying On-track and Graduating in Chicago Public High Schools: A Close Look at Course Grades, Failures, and Attendance in the Freshman Year, University of Chicago, Consortium on Chicago School Research, Chicago, IL, 2007. In this study of the freshman year of high school, researchers found that attendance in this pivotal transition year was a key indicator of whether students would finish high school. The study also found attendance and studying more predictive of dropout than test scores or other student characteristics. In fact, 9th grade attendance was a better predictor of dropout than 8th grade test scores.
- Balfanz, Robert, Lisa Herzog and Douglas J. MacIver, Preventing Student Disengagement and Keeping Students on the Graduation Path in Urban Middle-Grades Schools: Early Identification and Effective Interventions, Educational Psychologist, 42(4), 223–235, 2007. This study examines the application of an early identification and intervention system for students in the middle grades to prevent student disengagement and increase graduation rates. The authors use follow a cohort of students to demonstrate how indicators reflecting poor attendance, misbehavior and course failure in sixth grade can be used to identify 60% of the students who will not graduate from high school. by combining effective whole-school reforms with attendance, behavioral, and extra-help interventions, graduation rates can be substantially increased.