Early Education and Absenteeism

These reports are organized alphabetically.

  • Absenteeism and GPA:  Exploring the top indicators of career and college readiness, Attendance Institute and the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR), November 18, 2014. Elaine Allensworth, PhD, and the Lewis-Sebring Director of CCSR shares highlights from three important reports:  1. Absenteeism from Preschool to High School, 2. Looking Forward to High School and College: Middle Grade Indicators of Readiness in Chicago Public Schools, and 3. Free to Fail or On Track to College.  CCSR discusses absenteeism at all grade levels as well as which school indicators connect to success in the middle grades, high school as well as career and college.
  • Attendance in the Early Grades: Why it Matters for Reading, Attendance Works and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, February 2014. This brief summarizes a growing body of research which documents how many youngsters are chronically absent, meaning they miss 10 percent or more of the school year due to excused or unexcused absences. The research also shows how these missed days, as early as preschool, translate into weaker reading skills and makes a clear case for engaging families to reduce chronic absenteeism.
  • 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.
  • Dubay, Lisa and Holla, Nikhil, Absenteeism in D.C. Public Schools Early Education Program, Urban Institute, January 26, 2015. Enrollment in early childhood education programs can be an important stepping stone to higher educational achievement, particularly for low-income children. This report examines the extent of absenteeism in the District of Columbia Public Schools’ school-based Head Start program in the 2013–2014 school year. Absence rates and the share of students with satisfactory attendance improved between SY 2012–2013 and SY 2013–2014. Rates of absences declined from 9 percent to 8 percent, and the share of students with satisfactory attendance increased from 36 percent to 44 percent between the two years.
  • 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.
  • Fantuzzo, John et al, Academic achievement of African American boys: A city-wide, community-based investigation of risk and resilience, Journal of School Psychology, Volume 50, Issue 5, October 2012, pages 559–579. This study of about 8,900 Philadelphia children went beyond a simple measure of poverty to explore six risk factors that influence the achievement gap between African American and White boys and demonstrated that students facing more risk factors suffer academically. The study also showed that African American boys with higher levels of academic engagement—as measured by attendance and task engagement—performed significantly better on both reading and mathematics tests after accounting for the effects of early risk experiences. Evaluating children from birth through third grade, the study looked at risk factors such as poor prenatal care and low education levels for the children’s mothers, premature births, lead exposure, homelessness and maltreatment. The study found a “risk gap”:  African American boys from low-income families were more likely to face one or more of these risk factors than White boys from similar families. The African American boys were also more likely to have poor attendance and less likely to engage in school. The study suggests that improving attendance and engagement can reduce the effects of the risk factors and help close the achievement gap.
  • Gottfried, Michael A., Can Center-Based Childcare Reduce the Odds of Early Chronic Absenteeism?, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, April 2015. This study was the first to position itself in the intersection on research on center-based care and on chronic absenteeism. Given the growth in the utilization of center-based care and given the recent vocalized policy concerns of the detrimental effects of chronic absenteeism in early school years, this study inquired as to whether attending center-based care predicted differential odds of early absence patterns. Using a newly-released national large-scale study of children (the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Kindergarten Class of 2010-11), the findings indicated that children who attended center-based care in prekindergarten had lower odds of being chronically absent in kindergarten.
  • Grigg, Jeffrey, Faith Connolly, Stephanie D’Souza, and Charlie Mitchell, Kindergarten Attendance and Readiness for Baltimore’s Class of 2027, Baltimore Education Research Consortium, Baltimore, MD., March, 2015. This brief examines kindergarten readiness and attendance in kindergarten for children enrolled in publicly provided early education programs as well as similar children who entered kindergarten without enrolling in these programs. The brief finds that children enrolled in these programs are more likely to be kindergarten ready and less likely to be chronically absent. It concludes that the most vulnerable students benefit the most from publicly funded early education programs.
  • Katz, Michael, Gina Adams, and Martha Johnson, Insights into Absenteeism in DCPS Early Childhood Program, Urban Institute, January 26, 2015. Absenteeism in early grades, including prekindergarten, can negatively impact future attendance, retention, and academic performance. This report details research focused on absenteeism of children in the District of Columbia Public School (DCPS) early childhood program. Through interviews with key DCPS staff as well as education experts and district administrators throughout the country, and reviewing relevant literature and case management notes, we examined contributing factors to early childhood absenteeism in DC, current attendance tracking and intervention efforts, and potential strategies to improve attendance. The report includes recommendations about steps that the DCPS Early Childhood Education Division could consider to limit absenteeism.
  • Mapping the Early Attendance Gap: Charting a Course for Student Success. Attendance Works and 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.
  • Olson, Linda S.Why September Matters: Improving Student Attendance, Baltimore Education Research Consortium, July 2014. Absenteeism in the first month of school can predict poor attendance patterns throughout the year, providing an early warning sign for parents and educators to intervene and put students back on track, according to this brief which examines attendance in the Baltimore City Public Schools for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students in September and throughout the rest of the 2012-13 school year. Olson found that: students who missed fewer than 2 days in September typically had good attendance rates for the entire year; half the students who missed 2-4 days in September went on to miss a month or more of school; and nearly 9 out of 10 students who missed more than 4 days in September were chronically absent that year.
  • Riddle, Katia, Showing Up, Staying In: How Oregon schools partner with students, families and communities to beat chronic absence, Children’s Institute, Winter 2014-15. In its new report, the Children’s Institute calls for swift and meaningful action from the state of Oregon to combat chronic absence in all grades, but in particular the early grades starting with kindergarten.
  • Romero, Mariajose and Young-Sun Lee, A National Portrait of Chronic Absenteeism in the Early Grades, National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia University. October 2007. This brief reveals a significant level of absenteeism in the early school years, especially among low-income children, and confirms its detrimental effects on school success by examining children from across various incomes and race/ethnicity groups in a nationally representative sample of children entering kindergarten. Early absenteeism negatively impacted academic achievement in reading, math, and general knowledge in the early school years.  And greater absenteeism in kindergarten was associated with lower achievement at the end of first grade. On average, children missing 10% or more of the school year scored five points less than did those who were absent up to 3% of the school year in kindergarten.