New Research Addressing Chronic Absenteeism in K-12 Schools
EL DORADO HILLS, CA—May 16, 2023—As K-12 students recover from COVID pandemic learning disruptions, chronic absenteeism—which spiked during the pandemic—continues to be a critical issue in U.S. public schools, with some districts seeing even higher levels of absenteeism than during the pandemic.
A new report released today by School Innovations and Achievement (SI&A), shines a spotlight on this issue and provides insight into patterns of chronic absenteeism as well as details on mitigation strategies that have been highly successful at improving attendance in K-12 schools. The report, "Chronic Absence Patterns Across California Schools," analyzed attendance for nearly 325,000 PK-12 students in 30 districts across California from March 2022 to March 2023 and found that consistent school-home communication and data-informed, systemic interventions are vital for improving student attendance.
Key findings of the report include:
The Number of Hours Many Chronically Absent Students Are Missing is Severe—The number of hours chronically absent students are missing is increasing and makes up a large portion of the school year. The SI&A analysis showed that nearly a third of public school students in the sample were chronically absent—meaning that as of late March, they had missed 10% or more of the school year. Students included in the sample missed a total of more than 15 million hours of learning time from 2022 to 2023.
Disparities in Absence Rates by Demographic Groups Have Been Amplified—Historically marginalized student groups continue to have higher rates of absenteeism and the differences in attendance rates by student groups are growing. This has implications for equity when considering academic recovery.
Positive, Proactive Communication Between School and Home is Effective at Addressing Absenteeism—Increased, positive communication between school and home, as well as data-informed systemic interventions, are effective for addressing absenteeism.
Transition Grades Are Key Years for Attendance Interventions—Transition years are key grades to prioritize for building good attendance habits. Elevated absence rates in Kindergarten make parent education on the importance of early learning critical. Early intervention and outreach in these grades help to ensure smooth transitions as students progress in their academic careers.
“We know that school attendance is the number one predictor of student success, which underscores the urgency of finding effective interventions for the growing rate of chronic absenteeism in U.S. schools,” said Erica Peterson, SI&A National Education Manager, and a co-author of the report. “Interventions focused on areas such as school-home communication and relationship building need to be prioritized as districts work to support good attendance habits and get students back on track academically.”
SI&A is an education software company that provides innovative, data-driven solutions that help K-12 school administrators track, manage, and improve student attendance. SI&A has been working with California school districts for 20+ years to address and improve absenteeism. The “Chronic Absence Patterns Across California Schools,” report shows that overall, SI&A partners saw better levels of attendance throughout the state with some achieving dramatic increases in attendance. In Sanger Unified School District, for example, a district that works with SI&A, the rate of chronic absenteeism decreased from 31% to 17% from 2022 to 2023.
Based on its work with schools over the last 20+ years, SI&A offers the following recommendations for districts addressing absenteeism:
Set the expectation for the year ahead and what it means to be successful
Communicate with targeted, positive messaging to all families and home adults at all levels about the importance of good attendance habits
Address any language and technology barriers to make sure that communications about attendance are reaching home adults
Schedule regular intervals to analyze the attendance data and make course corrections as necessary
About the SI&A "Chronic Absence Patterns Across California Schools" Report
SI&A is a supplier of reports for the California Department of Education, which help provide information on the state of attendance. The company was contacted by the Department of Education in 2020 to help offer data and insight on absenteeism. The SI&A “Chronic Absence Patterns Across California Schools” report includes data from March 2022 through March 2023 and examined attendance for nearly 325,000 PK-12 students in the 30 districts across 17 counties in California. To learn more, you can download the full report here.
For the last two decades, SI&A has been recognized for providing best-in-class, innovative, award-winning software and service solutions for some of the toughest issues in K-12 education. SI&A empowers and supports school districts with programs that generate and protect revenue, achieve attendance and performance goals, streamline processes, and fulfill regulatory obligations. In 2022, SI&A was acquired by The SchoolStatus Group. For more information, visit sia-us.com.