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Attendance is important because students are more likely to succeed in academics when they attend school consistently. It’s difficult for the teacher and the class to build their skills and progress if a large number of students are frequently absent.
Research shows that missing 10 percent of the school, or about 18 days in most school districts, negatively affects a student’s academic performance. That’s just two days a month and that’s known as chronic absence.
Chronic absences keep kids from getting the consistent instruction they need to build on basic skills. For kids with learning and attention issues, there’s something else to consider: Frequent absences mean missed opportunities to get help.
Research shows how great the impact can be. A study in California looked at kids who were chronically absent in both kindergarten and first grade. By the end of third grade, only one in six of them were proficient readers. But of the kids who missed less than 5 percent of school, two-thirds were proficient.
A Rhode Island study looked at kids who were chronically absent in kindergarten. In later grades, they scored 20 percent lower than their peers in reading and math.
For some kids, frequent absences can become a long-term habit. Research shows that kids who are allowed to miss school when they’re young are more likely to skip school when they’re older. And that can lead to other consequences.
Being chronically absent affects high school graduation rates and the chances for success in college. In a Rhode Island study only 11 percent of high school students with chronic absences made it to their second year of college. That’s compared to 51 percent of students who didn’t miss that much school.
Kids with learning and attention issues are even more vulnerable to the impact of chronic absences. It can be hard enough for them to master the lessons in school with the support of the teacher or aide. Trying to do it at home can make the work even harder.
Plus, each day of learning builds on the previous day. When kids miss a few days in a row, it can be hard to follow subsequent lessons. And when kids aren’t in school, they’re missing the opportunities to be identified for intervention and extra supports.