What is the impact of student absenteeism on important student outcomes?

October 29, 2018

11 Million Days Lost: Race, Discipline, and Safety at U.S. Public Schools: Part I

Research tells us that student engagement is one of the most important components of a classroom strategy to facilitate student learning, as is effective teaching, a systematic instruction pedagogy, and evidence-based curriculum.  Yet none of these interventions matter if a student is not in school. There are an increasing number of studies examining student absenteeism and its negative impact on student achievement.  This descriptive summary is one of the first reviews to examine the number of days of “lost instruction” resulting from student suspensions. The study examines the total number of days lost nationwide, disparities among different student subgroups, and differences across individual states. Read more Overall, students lost a total of 11,360,004 days of instruction as a result of school suspensions. In order to facilitate comparisons of student subgroups with different enrollment numbers, the study uses a metric of “days of lost instruction per 100 students enrolled”. The resulting analysis documents significant disparity between subgroups. Black students lost 66 days of instruction (for every 100 students) compared to 14 for White students (the national average was 23 lost days).  Students with disabilities lost 44 days of instruction, twice the 20 lost days of those without disabilities.  Individual states had radically different performance in this area, with North Carolina averaging 51 days lost instruction per 100 enrollment annually and Utah 5 days. When examined by subgroup data, some states have extremely large instructional day loss.  Black students lost over 100 days of lost instruction per 100 enrolled in Ohio, Michigan, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia. The impact of loss of instruction due to suspensions has a lifelong impact on students, including: lower graduation rates (Rumberger and Losen, 2017), increased involvement in the juvenile justice system (Mowicki, 2018), and arrests as adults Rosenbaum (2018)

Citations: Russell W. Rumberger and Daniel J.Losen, The Hidden Cost of California’s Harsh School Discipline, The Civil Rights Project at UCLA, (2017) Retrieved from http://www.schooldisciplinedata.org/ccrr/docs/CostofSuspensionReportFinal.pdf

Janet Rosenbaum (2018). Educational and Criminal Justice Outcomes 12 Years After School Suspension. Youth & Society.

Jacqueline M. Mowicki, Discipline Disparities for Black Students, Boys and Students with Disabilities, GAO (March 2018). http://www.gao.gov/assets/700/690828.pdf

Links: https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/field_document/final_11-million-days_ucla_aclu.pdf