Key Research

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).


  • Portraits of Change: Aligning School and Community Resources to Reduce Chronic Absence, Attendance Works and the Everyone Graduates Center, September, 2017. This brief provides a national and state analysis of how many schools face high levels of chronic absence and discusses the implications for state and local action. It relies on the most recent federal chronic absence data for the 2013-14 school year. It includes examples of attendance initiatives from communities located across the country that show how chronic absence can be turned around, even when it reaches high levels in a school or district or among a particular student population. It also shares how partners such as businesses, nonprofits and local governments can team up with educators and add support and resources.
  • Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 7.59.47 PM

  • 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 6.8 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.
  • Snip20140901_7Ginsburg, 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.
  • Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 11.55.29 AMMapping 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.







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.
  • BetterPictureofPoverty-coverNauer, 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.


Secondary School