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).
- 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.
- Finck, Julie Baker, Ph.D., When Students Miss School: The High Cost to Houston, Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, September, 14, 2015. The report provides a detailed look at chronic absence in the Houston Independent School District for the 2014-2015 school year, when about 9.3 percent of students missed 10 percent or more of the school year. The report explores the impact poor attendance has on student achievement, classroom instruction and district finances. It illustrates chronic absence issues across grades and demographics, explains the interrelationship between chronic absence and reading achievement levels and offers an evidenced-based, community approach to increasing attendance rates, and ultimately achievement and graduation rates.
- Zalkind, Cecelia, Coogan, Mary and Sterling, Robert, Showing Up Matters: The State of Chronic Absenteeism in New Jersey, Advocates for Children of New Jersey, August 2015. An analysis of data collected by the New Jersey Department of Education documents that more than 125,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade missed 10 percent or more of the 2013-14 school year. The report provide breakdowns for each county, as well as looking at attendance among key student populations. The chronic absence rate for kindergartners is as high as that for high school students. Children of color and those with disabilities also had disproportionately high rates of absenteeism.
- 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
- Harris, Kamala D., In School & on Track, Attorney General’s 2015 Report on California’s Elementary School Truancy & Absenteeism Crisis, Office of the Attorney General, California Department of Justice. 2015. The third in a series of annual reports, In School: On Track 2015, shows that an estimated 230,000 elementary students are missing 10 percent or more of the school year. Absenteeism and suspension rates were disproportionately high among low-income, homeless, foster youth and special education students and children of color. The report also notes a positive trend, with more attention to chronic absence and success in improving attendance across the districts surveyed.
- 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.
- 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.