Starting as early as preschool and kindergarten, regular attendance is essential for students gaining
the academic and social skills they need to thrive. Research shows that when students are chronically
absent (missing 10% or more of the school year or 18 days over an entire year), they are less likely to read
proficiently by third grade, achieve in middle school and graduate from high school.
Chronic absence has more than doubled since the start of the pandemic, from 8 million to an estimated
16 million students nationwide. That’s one out of three students. Absenteeism has risen among all student
groups, at every economic level. Black, Latino and Native American students, students living in poverty,
students with disabilities and English language learners have been especially affected.
Monitoring chronic absence — and tracking whether absences are excused, unexcused or due to suspension
— is key to responding strategically to the academic and social losses experienced by millions of students,
including the development of skills such as listening, paying attention, problem-solving and self-regulation,
all which are needed to grow and learn.
The good news is that efforts to improve engagement and attendance can benefit our entire society. We all
prosper when children and youth, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, neighborhood, economic status
or family income, have the opportunity to gain skills and abilities that prepare them for success in school,
work and life.