In response to the coronavirus epidemic, the Department of Education is allowing states to request waivers for the chronic absence accountability metric in the Every Student Succeeds Act. New legislation would also allow ED to issue these waivers. We encourage educators and policy makers to continue reviewing their chronic absence data to help identify the schools, students and families that need additional supports.
Every Student Succeeds Act
Thirty-six states plus the District of Columbia submitted ESSA state plans that include chronic absence to the U.S. Education Department by September 18. As this table shows, 27 states described chronic absence metric as missing 10 percent or more school days. Four states, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia adopted a definition of attending 90 percent of school days. Three states, Alabama, Hawaii, Nevada adopted the threshold of missing a set number of days, while Indiana, Montana included other attendance measures. *California uses chronic absence as an academic indicator. Find out more in Who’s In: Chronic Absenteeism Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, a report by FutureEd.
Our blog series highlights attendance-related issues that are emerging as states work through the complexities of implementing ESSA. Find the blog series here.
The 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (called the No Child Left Behind Act when it was updated in 2002). ESSA gives states more power to set their own accountability standards within the parameters described in the law. One new requirement is that states define and measure school quality. ESSA also requires states to report chronic absence data and allows federal spending on training to reduce absenteeism.
ESSA gives states the responsibility of choosing at least one indicator, or metric, to measure school quality or student success. These indicators must meet rigorous selection criteria in the law. Chronic absence is one of the few metrics available now to all states and that meets or exceeds the selection criteria. Chronic absence, defined as missing 10 percent of school days within one academic year for any reason, is a powerful early warning predictor of student performance. Information about the scope and scale of chronic absence among students can equip schools—often together with community partners—to help students and families get the additional supports they need to overcome barriers to getting to school. Finally, from a cost standpoint, chronic absence is a measure which school districts must already report to the U.S. Department of Education and is based upon data that they already have. Read our blog and find out more about the attendance provisions in ESSA.
Chronic Absenteeism and ESSA
FutureEd hosted "Chronic Absence and ESSA"
U.S. Department of Education Civil Rights Data Collection
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released student absenteeism rates from all 50 states for the 2015-16 school year. This data from all public schools and school districts shows that almost 8 million students were chronically absent from schools in 2015-16.
Attendance Works and the Everyone Graduates Center released Data Matters: Using Chronic Absence to Accelerate Action for Student Success, an analysis of OCR data that compares differences in school chronic absence levels from the 2013-14 and 2015-16 school years, while showing the connection between chronic absence levels and demographics. The report, released in September 2018, shares tools for unpacking the causes of chronic absence and provides recommendations for action.
The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution developed an interactive data map that makes it easy for everyone – families, educators and policymakers – to explore chronic absence data at the school, district, state and national levels. The map accompanies Data Matters: Using Chronic Absence to Accelerate Action for Student Success.
For the first time, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights collected student absenteeism rates from all public schools and school districts nationwide for the 2013-14 school year. The data show that 6.8 million students, or 13 percent of all students, were chronically absent from schools in 2013-14. Find out more about the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), released in 2016, including a separate data story on chronic absenteeism in our Research section. Attendance Works has created a guide for accessing the 2013-14 CRDC to help filter the data for your state or LEA. Find the Guide here.