State education policy should ensure that each student’s state constitutional right to an education is met. States achieve this by establishing state-wide standards for accountability, adopting regulations and providing guidance that establishes expectations for school districts and schools to achieve. States are also responsible for providing each student a substantially similar opportunity to achieve and meet academic performance standards regardless of geographical location. States also guarantee that state and local funding are sufficient to reasonably expect that all students can meet academic performance standards.

States can ensure consistent and comparable data across schools and districts by specifying how key attendance concepts are defined and offering guidance about how to collect accurate data. States also determine when and how attendance and chronic absence data is publicly reported.

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires states to adopt accountability standards for its schools that include academic and school quality measures, and requires all 50 states to report chronic absence data on their state report card website. Due to the strong research base of attendance as a leading indicator of student academic success and child well-being, 36 states and the District of Columbia adopted chronic absenteeism as one of their multiple measures of accountability.

The Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath impacted every district and school in the United States. It has impacted communities that struggle with poverty and exacerbated existing inequities. As a result, chronic absenteeism has skyrocketed. We call on state policy makers to support these policy recommendations, to advance making student absenteeism a priority,  especially in this moment of crisis.

Learn more by reading our state policy briefs

To improve attendance policy and practice across states, Attendance Works’ facilitates the national Network to Advance State Attendance Policy and Practice offering opportunities for peer learning and exchange for state administrators and advocates. Learn more.

Updated April 2024