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School Attendance

Every year, one in 10 kindergarten and first grade students misses a month of school with excused and unexcused absences.

This phenomenon is referred to as “chronic absence” and can set a pattern of poor attendance and academic underachievement for older students, fueling the dropout rate.

Chronic absence is a measure of how much school a student misses for any reason. It is a broader measure than truancy, which only tracks unexcused absences. Starting in the early grades, the percentage of students missing 10 percent of the school year can reach remarkably high levels, and these absences can rob students of the time they need to develop literacy skills.

Did You Know?

  • Attendance impacts academic achievement

    Research shows these absences can affect academic achievement, especially for low-income students. They can leave children unable to read well by the end of third grade, exacerbating the achievement gap.

    Attendance in the Early Grades: Why it Matters for Third Grade Reading

  • Communication is key

    Chronic early absence decreases when schools and communities actively communicate the importance of going to school regularly to all students and their parents, and reach out to families when their children begin to show patterns of excessive absence.

    Present, Engaged, and Accounted For

  • The implications for school budgets

    In school districts, including Oakland Unified, where state funding is determined by average daily attendance, reducing chronic absence can add millions of dollars each year back into school budgets — to the benefit of all students.

    Attendance Works

School Attendance Resources

There are many resources available to educators, school leaders, policy advocates and parents/caregivers that help support school attendance.

  • Attendance Works

    Attendance Works is a national and state initiative that promotes awareness of the important role that school attendance plays in achieving academic success starting with school entry.

  • Every Day Counts Attendance Toolkit

    The toolkit provides ready-made materials that administrators, staff, teachers, and community partners can use for outreach to families and provides tools that schools can use to assess their own attendance practices and guide their improvement.

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