Attendance Works champions policies at the local, state and federal level that promote taking attendance daily and using multiple measures, including chronic absence, to activate support for students and families and to inform program and policy decisions.
These policies should recognize that absenteeism is a leading indicator of, and can contribute to educational inequity. Research shows the clear benefits of regular school attendance and the high costs related to absenteeism, including students not being able to read by third grade, lower achievement in middle school and dropping out of high school.
Though there are pockets of progress across the United States, adequate and equitable educational opportunity is far from a reality for many students of color, students from low-income families, and other historically underserved students, according to the Learning Policy Institute’s brief The Federal Role in Advancing Education Equity and Excellence. As reflected by high levels of chronic absence, educational inequities continue to persist and disparities in engagement and learning have increased, particularly for Black, Latino/Hispanic, Native American and students with disabilities or living in low-income communities. Analysis of national and California data reveal these absences are affecting achievement.
While regular attendance does not guarantee learning, when a student misses class they clearly cannot benefit from the instruction offered or the opportunity to engage and develop positive relationships with adults and peers. If a large number of students miss class, it is an indication of challenges that require systemic solutions. Data on attendance and absenteeism are one of the few data points currently available to assess a student's access to education.
Measuring attendance, noticing which students are facing difficulties in showing up for learning, and investing in resources to remove barriers to attendance is more essential than ever. Such policies are paramount to reducing the adverse and disproportionate impacts of the pandemic and other disruptions on particular groups of students and families and ensuring a positive, long-term recovery.
Adequate and Equitable Resources
Updated August 2023