Early Matters: Cultivating Engagement and Attendance In Kindergarten

Why Address Attendance During Kindergarten Transition?

Helping our youngest learners and their families overcome barriers to getting to school and re-establishing a routine of daily attendance is essential to developing the social, emotional and academic skills that lay the foundation for early school success.

Starting in preschool and kindergarten, chronic absence (missing 10% of the school year – or just two days each month – for any reason) is an indicator that students are off track for learning.

Students chronically absent in preschool and kindergarten are much less likely to read and count proficiently by the end of third grade and are more likely to be chronically absent in later grades. Equally important, chronic absence is associated with declines in educational engagement, social-emotional development and executive functioning. It’s also a sign that families may be struggling with poverty, unstable housing, lack of access to health care and other barriers that also can affect the ability of young children to concentrate and learn.

Chronic absence, even at high levels, is a solvable problem. What works is taking a data-driven, comprehensive approach. This begins with engaging students and families and helping to prevent absences from adding up. 

Read our blog post to learn more about current chronic absence levels nationwide and how chronic absence impacts preschool and Kindergarten students.

Addressing chronic absence effectively requires close attention to attendance data. Read more about how to collect and use your data here.

This data on chronic absence is more available than ever before and can be used to determine where additional investments are needed to improve attendance and educational opportunity. All 50 states are required to collect and publish chronic absence data in K-12 school systems. In 36 states and the District of Columbia, chronic absence is a school accountability metric, typically starting in kindergarten. In addition, Head Start programs are now required to collect and address chronic absence and submit data to the federal government.

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Production of Early Matters: Cultivating Engagement and Attendance in Kindergarten was made possible by the generous support of the Heising Simons Foundation.