Addressing Chronic Absenteeism in Schools

As chronic absenteeism continues to rise, NAESP’s advocacy expert outlines how it affects students and schools and how NAESP and other education organizations are focused on reversing absenteeism in schools by bringing school leaders together.

Chronic absenteeism has become a critical post-pandemic problem. An Associated Press analysis found that almost a quarter of students, or roughly 6.5 million, missed more than 10 percent of all school days during the 2021-22 school year. Minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged students were especially likely to miss school. In states like Connecticut, the chronic absenteeism rate more than doubled, from 10 percent pre-COVID to 24 percent by the end of that 2021-22 school year.

How Absences Affect Academic Achievement

The impact of missing so much school is profound. President Joe Biden’s Council of Economic Advisors has calculated that “absenteeism can account for up to 27 percent and 45 percent of the test score declines in math and reading, respectively.”

There are many more and varied reasons students are missing so much school these days, including family disruptions, student disengagement, and health and well-being issues, to name just three.

Reversing Absenteeism Trends

Solutions start with engagement best practices such as:

  • Creating a warm and welcoming school environment for students and families and faculty and staff;
  • Establishing connections and personal relationships between trusted adults and students;
  • Delivering trauma-informed care; and
  • Providing family and student engagement opportunities.

Learn How You Can Help

NAESP is cohosting a webinar in conjunction with Attendance Works, the American Federation of School Administrators, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals to provide school leaders with more in-depth insights, best practices, and resources to help address chronic absenteeism in their schools.

The webinar is Tuesday, Feb. 27, from 4–5 p.m. ET. Participation is free, but advance registration is required via this link.

David Griffith is associate executive director of Policy and Advocacy at NAESP.