Why Attendance Matters
Too many absences—excused or unexcused—can keep students from succeeding in school and in life. How many are too many? Missing 10% of the school year—that’s 18 missed days or just 2 days a month—can knock students off track.
More than 6.5 million U.S. students, or about 13 percent, miss three or more weeks of school during a single school year, which is enough time to slow their achievement and threaten their chance of graduating. Nationwide, nearly 10 percent of kindergartners and first graders are chronically absent. In some schools it’s as high as 25 percent.
Addressing chronic absence is a key component to improving graduation rates, increasing academic achievement, and giving young people the best chance at success in their adult life. Chronic absence is a problem we can solve when the whole community, along with parents and schools, gets involved in improving attendance.
New Study Explores Chronic Absence in Schools
Recently, Attendance Works and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University released a report examining the scale and scope of chronic absence. Leveraging the first-ever national data set on chronic absence released in June by the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics, “Preventing Missed Opportunity: Taking Collective Action to Confront Chronic Absence” reveals that while chronic absence is widespread and found in almost all states, it is also highly concentrated.
While chronic absence is a significant challenge, “Preventing Missed Opportunity” highlights that it is a solvable problem. The key is collecting, analyzing, and sharing real-time chronic absence data in order to spur collective action, and enlisting support from community partners. The report cites Read On Arizona and its MapLIT interactive mapping tool as an example on page 31.
Read On Arizona is committed to monitoring chronic absence data within the state so it can be used to target school and community resources. This report helps raise awareness that we need to work together to get children—especially our most vulnerable—to school.
Click here to read the report.
Factors Related to Early Childhood Literacy
By Robert Vagi, Research Consultant
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University
Given the critical role that literacy plays in children’s academic and personal development, Arizona policymakers have increasingly turned their attention to early childhood literacy policies. In support of these initiatives, Read On Arizona and its partner organizations are leading a statewide effort to improve literacy outcomes for children, from birth to third grade.
In this study, Factors Related to Early Childhood Literacy, a census of data from Arizona schools is used to identify school, district, community, and health factors that plausibly influence third grade literacy rates. Findings show that several school-level factors are predictive of third grade reading achievement including school-level poverty and charter status. Most notably, two independent measures of student attendance were predictive of school-level reading achievement. Results indicate that policies aimed at increasing school-level attendance rates may be effective and inexpensive methods of increasing childhood literacy rates.
What is Attendance Awareness Month?
Attendance Awareness Month is a nationwide campaign in September to recognize the connection between school attendance and academic achievement. Read On Arizona encourages you to join the campaign and spread the word about the critical importance of school attendance—not just in September, but all year long. The campaign needs the involvement of educators, students, parents, and the community.
Here are some ideas how to get involved:
- Persuade your mayor or school board to issue a proclamation about school attendance.
- Host a back-to-school event that focuses on the importance of school attendance.
- Sponsor an attendance contest.
- Visit www.awareness.attendanceworks.org for promotion materials, toolkits, and ideas and engage families and community members.
- Put your school or organization’s participation on the national Attendance Awareness Map:
- Attendance Action Map: Communities can log activities on the map here
- Missing School Matters: Superintendents can sign the call to action here