Chronic Absence

Chronic Absence

Research shows that school attendance is significantly related to student achievement.

  • Overview

  • Evidence-Based Solutions

Too many absences can keep students from reading at grade level by the end of third grade, which is a strong predictor of future academic success. Students who fall behind early are much more likely to drop out of school and much less likely to develop the skills needed for career success.

A student is considered chronically absent when they miss 10 percent or more of a school’s calendar year for any reason, excused or unexcused. That’s about 18 days in a typical school year, or just two days a month.

Recent data from the Arizona Department of Education shows a dramatic, post-pandemic spike in the rate of chronic absence in Arizona’s public schools:

  • 34% of Arizona’s K-8 students were identified as chronically absent in 2022, up from 14% in 2019.
  • Chronic absence rates were even higher among economically disadvantaged students (42%) and Native American students (48%).

Chronic Absence Rate

These trends are alarming, but chronic absence is a problem we can solve. There are effective, inexpensive strategies to tackle chronic absence that involve schools, communities and families working together.

Students miss school for many different reasons. Challenges may include the lack of consistent housing or transportation, which is a common barrier in rural communities. Family circumstances, illness, or trauma can be involved. Some students may be struggling or disengaged, with no meaningful relationships to adults in the school. Every circumstance is different and often complex.

 

“Chronic absence is different from truancy, which only counts unexcused absences. Effective approaches to chronic absence cultivate student and family engagement, so that families and students are not problems to be solved but are active in designing the solutions.”

Hedy Chang, Attendance Works

 

The good news is that preventing absences also produces increases in early literacy outcomes. Data analysis showed that a 1% increase in school-level attendance rate was associated with a 1.5% increase in students passing Arizona’s third grade reading assessment.

Read On Arizona has convened a statewide chronic absence task force to explore the problem and identify effective, proactive strategies to reduce rates of chronic absence in our state. Leaders from the Governor’s office, school districts, state agencies, community partners, legislative staff, and education stakeholders are reviewing data, conferring with national experts from Attendance Works, and will develop recommendations and resources focused on prevention and re-engaging students and families.

Learn more about the Arizona Chronic Absence Task Force

Overview

Too many absences can keep students from reading at grade level by the end of third grade, which is a strong predictor of future academic success. Students who fall behind early are much more likely to drop out of school and much less likely to develop the skills needed for career success.

A student is considered chronically absent when they miss 10 percent or more of a school’s calendar year for any reason, excused or unexcused. That’s about 18 days in a typical school year, or just two days a month.

Recent data from the Arizona Department of Education shows a dramatic, post-pandemic spike in the rate of chronic absence in Arizona’s public schools:

  • 34% of Arizona’s K-8 students were identified as chronically absent in 2022, up from 14% in 2019.
  • Chronic absence rates were even higher among economically disadvantaged students (42%) and Native American students (48%).

Chronic Absence Rate

Evidence-Based Solutions

These trends are alarming, but chronic absence is a problem we can solve. There are effective, inexpensive strategies to tackle chronic absence that involve schools, communities and families working together.

Students miss school for many different reasons. Challenges may include the lack of consistent housing or transportation, which is a common barrier in rural communities. Family circumstances, illness, or trauma can be involved. Some students may be struggling or disengaged, with no meaningful relationships to adults in the school. Every circumstance is different and often complex.

 

“Chronic absence is different from truancy, which only counts unexcused absences. Effective approaches to chronic absence cultivate student and family engagement, so that families and students are not problems to be solved but are active in designing the solutions.”

Hedy Chang, Attendance Works

 

The good news is that preventing absences also produces increases in early literacy outcomes. Data analysis showed that a 1% increase in school-level attendance rate was associated with a 1.5% increase in students passing Arizona’s third grade reading assessment.

Read On Arizona has convened a statewide chronic absence task force to explore the problem and identify effective, proactive strategies to reduce rates of chronic absence in our state. Leaders from the Governor’s office, school districts, state agencies, community partners, legislative staff, and education stakeholders are reviewing data, conferring with national experts from Attendance Works, and will develop recommendations and resources focused on prevention and re-engaging students and families.

Learn more about the Arizona Chronic Absence Task Force