Mapping the Early Attendance Gap


By Attendance Works and Healthy Schools Campaign

Publication September 2015
Mapping the Early Attendance Gap Report

This national report by Attendance Works found that chronic absenteeism is often the result of a student’s health problems, such as asthma and dental problems, and is often as prevalent among young children as it is among teenagers. At least 10 percent of kindergartners and 1st graders miss nearly a month of class in a school year, according to the report. Children from low-income families and communities of color and those with disabilities are disproportionately affected, leading to a greater achievement gap for these populations.

Many of these absences, especially among the youngest students, are excused and, in many cases, these attendance patterns go unnoticed because schools are counting how many students show up every day rather than looking at how many miss so much school that they are falling behind. While much of our nation’s attendance policy focuses on finding and punishing students who miss school without an excuse, not enough attention is paid to preventing excused absences due to health concerns or other family and community issues.

The brief recommends five key steps for states to use their data to help schools and communities unpack chronic absence issues, and take actions to engage various stakeholders to address the attendance gap.

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