Chronic absenteeism—or missing at least 10 percent of school days in a school year for any reason, excused or unexcused—is a primary cause of low academic achievement and a powerful predictor of those students who may eventually drop out of school. An estimated five to seven and a half million students miss 18 or more days of school each year, or nearly an entire month or more of school, which puts them at significant risk of falling behind academically and failing to graduate from high school. Because they miss so much school, millions of young people miss out on opportunities in post-secondary education and good careers.
Chronic absenteeism is also an equity issue, and it is particularly prevalent among students who are low-income, students of color, students with disabilities, students who are highly mobile, and/or juvenile justice-involved youth—in other words, those who already tend to face significant challenges and for whom school is particularly beneficial. Moreover, chronic absenteeism is often confused with truancy, which can lead to disproportionate suspensions and expulsions from school and inappropriate referrals of students and families to law enforcement.
In response and in support of the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative (MBK), the U.S. Departments of Education (ED), Health and Human Services (HHS), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Justice (DOJ) are launching Every Student, Every Day: A National Initiative to Address and Eliminate Chronic Absenteeism to support coordinated community action that addresses the underlying causes of local chronic absenteeism affecting millions of children in our Nation’s public schools each year. We believe that when a diverse coalition of local stakeholders work together to engage and support students who are chronically absent, youth and family outcomes of entire communities can be dramatically improved. In short, we believe chronic absenteeism in communities is a solvable problem.
ED, HHS, HUD, and DOJ, as part of the Every Student, Every Day initiative, are pleased to release the following resources:
- Dear Colleague Letter to States, School Districts and Community on the need to reduce chronic absenteeism by at least 10% each year.
- Every Student, Every Day: A Community Toolkit to Address and Eliminate Chronic Absenteeism. This Toolkit offers information, suggested action steps, and lists of existing tools and resources—including evidence-based resources—for individuals, leaders, and systems to begin or enhance the work of effective, coordinated community action to address and eliminate chronic absenteeism, including actions steps for:
- Parents and Families
- Mentors and Volunteers
- School District Superintendents and Staff, and School Personnel
- Early Learning Providers
- Health Care, Public Health & Human Service Agencies & Providers
- Public Housing Authorities
- Juvenile Justice and Law Enforcement
- Homeless Services Providers
- Mayors and Local Government
- Community, Faith-Based, and Philanthropic Organizations
- White House Fact Sheet that includes additional details on Every Student, Every Day, including information on upcoming activities, technical assistance, and events.
- Every Student, Every Day: A Virtual Summit on Addressing and Eliminating Chronic Absence. The U.S. Department of Education, Attendance Works, Everybody Graduates Center and United Way Worldwide invite you to attend Every Student, Every Day: A Virtual Summit on Addressing and Eliminating Chronic Absence on Nov. 12. This online summit will outline key steps that states, districts and communities can take to improve student achievement by monitoring and reducing chronic absence. Featuring two of the nation’s premiere experts on absenteeism: Johns Hopkins researcher Bob Balfanz and Attendance Works Director Hedy Chang, this virtual summit will:
- Explain the importance of looking beyond average daily attendance rates to identify students who are missing so much school that they are falling behind academically.
- Share strategies that work for improving attendance and achievement, including positive messaging, family outreach, student incentives and mentoring programs.
- Highlight the importance of engaging community partners, such as, health providers and criminal justice agencies.
Balfanz and Chang will also introduce school district leaders who are using these strategies to improve attendance and achievement. The summit is hosted by the United Way Worldwide.
Source: US Department of Education