Data Matters: Using Chronic Absence to Accelerate Action for Student Success

October 1, 2018

Excessive student absenteeism (chronic absences) can have a devastating impact on student achievement.  It’s significance was recognized in the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which now requires all states to include in their school report cards how many students are chronically absent.  The Data Matters report analyzes the data in an attempt better understand the relationship between chronic absences and a wide range of variables: chronic absences by year, state, schools, poverty, ethnicity, and other school characteristics.  Key findings include:  (1) Nearly eight million students in the nation (15%) were chronically absent in the 2015-16 school year, (2) While chronic absenteeism affects all states, there is great variability between individual states ranging from 12% to 31% students with chronic absences, (3) over half (52%) of chronic absenteeism comes from students in schools with high or extreme levels of chronic absenteeism, and (4) schools with higher concentrations of low income students are more likely to experience chronic absenteeism.  The report provides recommendations and strategies for managing chronic absenteeism at all levels of education leadership, from state agencies through individual schools.  It also has an interactive web site where the reader can drill down on specific data at all levels of the education system.

Citation: Chang, Hedy N., Bauer, Lauren and Vaughan Byrnes, Data Matters: Using Chronic Absence to Accelerate Action for Student Success, Attendance Works and Everyone Graduates Center, September 2018.