As a policymaker, you play a critical role in ensuring that policies at the local, state and federal level advance a systemic approach to reducing student absenteeism.

Policy Makers Can
  • Adopt a standard definition of chronic absence (missing 10% or more of school), whether the school is in person, virtual or a blend, support daily attendance taking.

  • Ensure the state has a longitudinal student database—ideally beginning in preschool—that tracks attendance for each student using a unique identifier.

  • Make chronic absence a policy priority and direct districts and schools to identify contributing factors to student absenteeism.

  • Promote the adoption of learning opportunity metrics (contact, connectivity, attendance, participation and relationships) in addition to chronic absence.

  • Require that school improvement plans include prevention-oriented strategies to reduce chronic absence and improve attendance.

  • Sponsor legislation that sets a common definition for chronic absence, promotes monitoring and public reporting of data, and requires schools and districts to address high levels of chronic absence.

  • Support data sharing between education, health and social service agencies and other community-based youth and family organizations to target intervention efforts.

  • Ensure adequate and equitable resources so that all students have a substantially similar opportunity to meet performance standards regardless of geographic location, and that state and local funding are sufficient to reasonably expect that all students can meet academic performance standards.

  • Coordinate and secure resources to eliminate the digital divide.

  • Use chronic absence data to identify districts, schools, student populations and communities that need additional resources to remove barriers to attendance and ensure positive conditions of learning.

  • Build public awareness and consensus about addressing chronic absence.

Please visit our policy recommendations adapted for the coronavirus pandemic to advance making student absenteeism a priority indicator, especially in this moment of crisis.

Updated 12/15/2020