August 14, 2020

Districts pivot their strategies to reduce chronic absenteeism during distance learning

The U.S. Department of Education reported that for the 2015-2016 school year, more than 7 million students—or 16 percent of all students—and 20 percent of high school students are chronically absent.

Research shows that attendance is key to academic success, so preventing absenteeism is critical. Reading and math skills are hindered for students who are chronically absent as early as kindergarten. In elementary school, frequent absences are linked to a higher likelihood of dropout—even if attendance improves over time.

In addition to causing learning gaps, absenteeism also has budget implications. In seven states, including California, school districts are funded through property taxes or state allocations based on school attendance. Districts in communities that don’t generate high property taxes look to attendance revenues from the state.

To address absenteeism, school administrators have turned to outside groups to help implement data-informed intervention and outreach strategies.

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