Why Is Good Student Attendance So Important?

  • Students who are chronically absent in preschool are five times more likely to be chronically absent in second grade. 1
  • Compared to children with average attendance, chronically absent students gained 14 percent fewer literacy skills in kindergarten. In first grade, they had 15 percent fewer literacy skills and 12 percent fewer math skills.2
  • Chronic absence in kindergarten was associated with lower academic performance in first grade. The impact is twice as great for students in low-income families.3
  • Students identified as academically ready at the beginning of kindergarten but who were chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade scored 60 points below students with good attendance on third grade reading tests.4
  • By sixth grade, chronic absence is one of three early warning signs that a student is more likely to drop out of school, and ninth grade student attendance has been shown to be a better predictor of dropout than eighth grade scores.5
  • Course performance in the ninth grade was the strongest predictor of student graduation, and chronic absence was the strongest predictor of course performance.6
  • Fifty percent of students who miss two or more days of school in September miss a month or more of school for the school year.7
  • Among students who graduate, those who missed 10 or more school days during 10th grade had a 25-percentage-point difference in their post-secondary enrollment rates.8


Research Sources:

1 Ehrlich, Stacy B. et al., Preschool Attendance in Chicago Public Schools: Relationships with Learning Outcomes and Reasons for Absences, University of Chicago, Consortium on Chicago School Research, May 2014.

2 Ready, Douglas D., Socioeconomic Disadvantage, School Attendance, and Early Cognitive Development: The Differential Effects of School Exposure. Sociology of Education, October 2010.

3 Chang, Hedy and Romero, Mariajose, Present, Engaged & Accounted For: The Critical Importance of Addressing Chronic Absence in Early Grades. National Center for Children in Poverty, New York, NY, September 2008.

4 Attendance in Early Elementary Grades: Associations with Student Characteristics, School Readiness and Third Grade Outcomes. Applied Survey Research, May 2011.

5 Destination Graduation: Sixth Grade Early Warning Indicators for Baltimore City Schools, Their Prevalence and Impact.  Baltimore Education Research Consortium, 2011.

6 Allensworth, Elaine and Easton, John, What Matters for Staying On-Track and Graduating in Chicago Public High Schools: A Close Look at Course Grades, Failures, and Attendance in the Freshman Year. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago, Consortium on Chicago School Research, July 2007.

7 Olson, Linda S. Why September Matters: Improving Student Attendance. Baltimore Education Research Consortium, July 2014.

8 Balfanz, Robert and Vaughan Byrnes. Meeting the Challenge of Combating Chronic Absenteeism: Impact of the NYC Mayor's Interagency Task Force on Chronic Absenteeism and School Attendance and Its Implications for Other Cities. Everyone Graduates Center, Johns Hopkins University School of Education, November 2013.

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Every Student Present

Attendance Works