These reports are organized chronologically.
Schoeneberger, Jason A., Longitudinal Attendance Patterns: Developing High School Dropouts, The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 85:1, 7-14.
In this study, the researcher used longitudinal data on student attendance patterns from a large urban school district to model trajectories over time and categorize students into groups based on their attendance patterns from 1st through 8th grades. Using this technique, the study identified four categories of students: Constant Attendees who rarely missed more than 10% of school days; Developing Truants who showed increasing prevalence of absenteeism in the late elementary and middle school grades; Early Truants who were more likely to be chronically absent in the early elementary grades but showed improved attendance with time; and Chronic Truants, who exhibited the highest prevalence of missing school across all grades. Modeling each group’s trajectory, the study found that these longitudinal categories are predictive of high school dropout. Furthermore, while Chronic Truants have a 21% likelihood of dropping out, the likelihood for Developing Truants is even higher at 25%, suggesting that longitudinal attendance patterns should be used as a warning system to identify students at-risk of disengaging from school.
Kerr, Jill et al., Does Contact by a Family Nurse Practitioner Decrease Early School Absence?, The Journal of School Nursing, September 14, 2011.
Chronic early school absence is associated with school failure. The presence of school nurses may lead to fewer absences, and nurse practitioners in school-based health centers can facilitate a healthier population resulting in improved attendance. This article describes a nursing intervention to decrease early school absence in two elementary schools and a Head Start program.
Musser, Martha. Taking Attendance Seriously: How School Absences Undermine Student and School Performance in New York City. Center for Fiscal Equity. June 2011
The Campaign for Fiscal Equality works to ensure New York City students’ right to a sound basic education. In this study, they found that absenteeism presents a large barrier to securing that education. The CFE analyzed attendance records, state assessment scores, and demographic factors for 64,062 fourth-graders attending 705 New York City public schools in the 2007-2008 school year. The analysis showed that student attendance is a statistically significant predictor of student performance. What’s more, students are affected by the attendance rates of their schools, so that even students with high attendance rates suffer academically from being in an environment where absenteeism is a problem.
Attendance in Early Elementary Grades: Association with Student Characteristics, School Readiness and Third Grade Outcomes, Applied Survey Research. May 2011
A new study commissioned by Attendance Works 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. This study conducted by Applied Survey Research examined the progress of 640 young California children in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties where research has consistently shown a strong correlation between a high score on their local school readiness assessment measure and third grade reading proficiency. But students who arrived at school academically ready to learn— but then missed 10 percent of their kindergarten and first grade years—scored , on average, 60 points below similar students with good attendance on third-grade reading tests. In math, the gap was nearly 100 points.
Gottfried, Michael, The Detrimental Effect of Missing School, American Journal of Education, v. 117, no. 2, Feb. 2011, p. 147-182
There is evidence suggesting that missing school negatively relates to academic achievement. However, it is a difficult task to derive unbiased empirical estimates of absences in their influence on performance. One particular challenge arises from the unobserved heterogeneity in the family environment, which may relate to both absence behavior and school performance. This article provides the first analysis aimed at reducing the family-specific omitted variable bias pertaining to measures of absences in their influence on standardized testing achievement. It does so by employing a model of family fixed effects on a longitudinal sample of siblings within the same household in a large urban school district over six years of observations. The results indicate a stronger, statistically significant negative relationship between absences and achievement than what would have been suggested otherwise.
Ready, Douglas D., Socioeconomic Disadvantage, School Attendance, and Early Cognitive Development, The Differential Effects of School Exposure, Sociology of Education, October 2010
Over the past several decades, research has documented strong relationships between social class and children’s cognitive abilities. These initial cognitive differences, which are substantial at school entry, increase as children progress through school. Despite the robust findings associated with this research, authors have generally neglected the extent to which school absenteeism exacerbates social class differences in academic development among young children. Using growth-curve analyses within a three-level hierarchical linear modeling framework, this study employs data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS-K) to examine the links between children’s social class, school absences, and academic growth during kindergarten and first grade. Results suggest that the effects of schooling on cognitive development are stronger for lower socioeconomic status (SES) children and that the findings associated with theories of summer learning loss are applicable to literacy development during early elementary school. Indeed, although they continue to achieve at lower absolute levels, socioeconomically disadvantaged children who have good attendance rates gain more literacy skills than their higher SES peers during kindergarten and first grade.
Gottfried, Michael A., Evaluating the Relationship Between Student Attendance and Achievement in Urban Elementary and Middle Schools: An Instrumental Variables Approach, American Educational Research Journal, June 2010, Vol. 47, No. 2, pp. 434-465.
This study evaluates the connection between student attendance and positive learning outcomes. The researcher uses a comprehensive data set of elementary and middle schools in the Philadelphia school district to explore the causal impact of attendance on multiple measures of achievement, including grade-point average and standardized test scores. He controlled for student and neighborhood characteristics, as well as school, grade and other elements. The study showed a direct and consistent causal relationship between good attendance and good academic school outcomes in the K-5 and 6-8 schools.
Durham, Rachel and Plank, Stephen B., Maintaining High Achievement in Baltimore: An Overview of the Elementary School Trajectories of Four Recent City Schools First Grade Cohorts, Baltimore Educational Research Consortium, March 2010
The results from this study of four elementary schools show increased academic achievement and reduced chronic absence. It suggests that many recent reform efforts–among them improved developmental conditions from birth to age five, universal prekindergarten, reduced class sizes in the early grades, and standardized curricula–are succeeding in keeping Baltimore students on track for success in the middle grades and beyond. Continuing research should attempt to disentangle these various inputs to education, and also investigate the relative returns to investment when resources are directed to the programs.
Basch, Charles Healthier Students Are Better Learners: A Missing Link in Efforts to Close the Achievement Gap, March 9, 2010 Equity in Education Forum Series, Spring 2010 Teachers College, Columbia University.
This report concludes that “six educationally relevant disparities”—vision problems, asthma, teen pregnancy, aggression and violence, physical inactivity, poor nutrition, and concentration problems—have negative academic outcomes for minority students in urban settings. The piece hits also on data about the relationship between health and school attendance: “Compared with children without the condition, some studies have also found, children with asthma tend to have more problems with concentration and memory, to have their sleep disrupted, and to miss more days of school. One 2003 estimate, in fact, blamed the disorder for 12.8 million school absences across the country that year.”
Nauer, Kim, White, Andrew & Yerneni, Rajeev. Strengthening Schools by Strengthening Families: Community Strategies to Reverse Chronic Absenteeism in the Early Grades and Improve Supports for Children and Families. Center for New York City Affairs at the New School. October 2008
In 2008, The Center for New York City Affairs at The New School conducted its own an analysis of chronic absence in New York City public schools. It found that more than 90,000 children in grades K through 5 (more than 20 percent of enrollment) missed at least one month of school. In high poverty neighborhoods, the number was far higher, approaching one-third of primary grade students. The implication for these students’ long-term success is enormous, but this is only part of the story. This report also describes how chronic absenteeism at an early age can result from problems at home, and how strong partnerships between public schools, community organizations and other institutions can make a difference.
Chang, Hedy & Romero, Mariajose, Present, Engaged & Accounted For: The Critical Importance of Addressing Chronic Absence in the Early Grades, National Center for Children in Poverty: NY: 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 (i.e. miss nearly a month or more of school over the course of a year). Absenteeism in the early grades can reach even higher levels in particular schools and districts. The good news is that chronic early absence can be significantly reduced when schools, communities and families join together to monitor and promote attendance, as well as to identify and address the factors that prevent young students from attending school every day.
Lost Days: Patterns and Levels of Chronic Absence Among Baltimore City Public School Students 1999-00 to 2005-06. Baltimore Education Research Consortium.
This brief reveals that chronic absenteeism presents a significant challenge to classroom instruction and learning rates in the primary grades (1st – 5th) in Baltimore City Schools. Roughly a third of students in the first grade cohort were chronically absent at least once during their first five years. By the early secondary grades (6th and 10th), chronic absenteeism reached epidemic levels with missing significant amounts of school becoming a norm. Not surprisingly, there was a strong connection between chronic absenteeism and dropping out.
For more in-depth information about chronic absence in elementary school, also see First Grade and Forward.
Additional information on attendance issues and potential strategies in Baltimore, you can also see the work of the Baltimore MD Attendance Initiative supported by the Open Society Institute.
Sheldon, Steven B., Improving Student Attendance with School, Family and Community Partnerships, Journal of Educational Research, January 2007
Researchers and policy makers have questioned the efficacy of family-involvement interventions. They believe that more studies are needed to compare outcomes of students whose families received a partnership intervention with those who did not. The author used data from the state of Ohio to compare student attendance in elementary schools that developed school-wide programs of school, family, and community partnerships with the attendance of students in schools that did not develop the programs. Analyses showed that in schools working to implement school, family, and community partnerships, student attendance improved an average of .5%, whereas in comparison schools, rates of student attendance declined slightly from 1 year to the next. Further analysis suggested that school outreach to families was the driving mechanism that caused this effect.
Epstein, J. L. & Sheldon, S. B. (2002). Present and accounted for: Improving student attendance through family and community involvement. Journal of Educational Research, 95, 308-318.
This study discusses the results of an analysis of longitudinal data collected on schools’ rates of daily student attendance and chronic absenteeism and on specific partnership practices that were implemented to help increase or sustain student attendance. Results indicate that several family–school–community partnership practices predict an increase in daily attendance, a decrease in chronic absenteeism, or both. The data suggest that schools may be able to increase student attendance in elementary school by implementing specific family and community involvement activities.