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  • Erica Peterson

WHY Attendance Matters

Meriam Webster defines attendance as the “action or state of going regularly to or being present at a place or event.” Attendance is important for family gatherings, town meetings, or most importantly school. By 6th grade, chronic absenteeism is a leading indicator that a student will drop out of high school. Below are additional statistics on how attendance can impact the future of a student across their educational career.


#1: Attendance is the number one predictor of dropout and graduation rates.

—The Importance of Being in School: A Report on Absenteeism in the Nation’s Public Schools by Robert Balfanz and Vaughan Byrnes, May 2012


120 Days: Approximate number of instructional days per school year if you remove state testing, seasonal holidays, field trips, prof days, and half days from a typical 180-day school calendar.

—The Education Trust


2 months to 2.5 years: Students in other countries spend 2 months to 2.5 years more time in K-12 school than U.S. students.

—Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)


1 in 10: Kindergartners and 1st graders are chronically absent.

  • That means 1 in 10 kindergartners and 1st graders miss a month of school each year.

  • Chronic absenteeism in these grades is associated with lower achievement in reading and math by 5th grade.

—Present, Engaged, and Accounted For, The Critical Importance of Addressing Chronic Absence in the Early Grades


30%: The average percentage of enrollment that have between 9 and 18 absences.

—A2A data sample of client averages for more than 2 million students


50%+: Portion of future dropouts that can be predicted based on attendance and failure in English and math.

—The Silent Epidemic, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Study


53%: The number of parents who said they weren’t contacted when their children missed school.

—The Silent Epidemic, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Study


68%: The number of parents who became aware only when their kids were on the verge of dropping out.

—The Silent Epidemic, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Study


25%: There is a 25% drop in the likelihood of graduating high school in 4 years when students are absent between 5-9 days per semester.

—The University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, Allensworth & Easton, 2007


5-9%: As little as 5-9 absences a semester can drop a student’s GPA from a 3.0 to a 2.7.

—The University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, Allensworth & Easton, 2007


75 million students in the U.S. are chronically absent (miss 18 or more days or 10% of the school year)

—The Importance of Being in School – Dr. Robert Balfanz, Johns Hopkins University School of Education


18% of High School students are chronically absent

—Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights


11% of Elementary students are chronically absent

—Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights


3,323 students drop out of school every day

— Code Red – all in the Youth, America’s Promise Alliance


65% of all 4th-grade students cannot read at grade level

  • White – 54% of our white 4th graders cannot read

  • Black – 82% of our black 4th graders cannot read

  • Hispanic – 79% of our Hispanic 4th graders cannot read

  • Low-Income Students – 83% of our Low-Income 4th graders cannot read

—U.S. Department of Education


83% of students considered chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade cannot read on-level by third grade

—U.S. Senator, Former Attorney General of California, Kamala Harris, 2015


67% of student course failures are attributed to attendance

— The University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, Allensworth & Easton, 2007


Students not reading on-level by end of third grade are 4X more likely to drop out

—U.S. Senator, Former Attorney General of California, Kamala Harris, 2015


High school dropouts are 8X more likely to be incarcerated than people with high school diplomas

—Community Policing: A Contemporary Perspective by Victor E. Kappeler & Larry K. Gaines


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