2. Excused and unexcused absences easily add up to too much time lost in the classroom.
4. We need to monitor how many days each student misses school for any reason— excused, unexcused or suspensions— so we can intervene early. Districts and schools should use data to identify how many and which students are chronically absent so they can target extra supports that can improve attendance and interrupt a pattern of chronic absence. Families should track how many days their children have missed so they are aware of when they should be concerned and take action. We can’t afford to think of absenteeism as merely a lack of compliance with school rules or a loss of funding. Absences represent lost opportunities to learn in the classroom.
5. Chronic absence is a problem we can solve when the whole community, along with to parents and schools, get involved in improving attendance. All of us can make a difference by helping students and families feel engaged in learning and their schools, setting the expectation that school attendance matters and working together to identify and help families overcome barriers to getting to school. Community partners are especially important for helping schools and families address and overcome tough barriers, such as limited access to health care, unstable housing, poor transportation or neighborhood violence.
6. Relationship building is fundamental to any strategy for improving student attendance. Students are more likely to go to school if they know someone cares whether they show up. Trusting relationships – whether with teachers, mentors, coaches or other caring adults – are critical to encouraging families and students to seek out help to overcome barriers to attendance.
7. Reducing chronic absence can help close achievement gaps. Chronic absence especially affects achievement for low-income students who depend more on school for opportunities to learn. Because they are more likely to face systemic barriers to getting to school, low-income children, many of whom are children of color, have higher levels of chronic absence starting as early as prekindergarten. Chronic absence data can be used to trigger interventions so high-risk student populations receive the supports they need, ideally before they fall behind academically. Especially among older students of color, chronic absence could signal the need to reform inappropriate and biased student discipline policies and practices that are pushing students out of class