Student Success

Chronic Absenteeism Severe, Especially Among Historically Marginalized Groups

An analysis of data from more than 325,000 preK–12 students found that chronic absenteeism has reached severe levels between 2022 and 2023 and that disparities between demographic groups are growing.

School Innovations and Achievement (SI&A) analyzed date from students in 30 districts in California from March 2022 to March 2023 and found that, in that time, those students missed a total of more than 15 million hours of school — an average of roughly 43.5 hours each — and one-third of them had missed 10% or more of the school year (chronic absenteeism).

Further, according to SI&A, "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."

SI&A, which provides tools for tracking and managing student attendance, noted that attendance is a significant predictor of student success and that targeting families with interventions early on can have a positive impact on student attendance. "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, in a prepared statement. "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 said the key is communication "with targeted, positive messaging to all families and home adults at all levels about the importance of good attendance habits." Addressing language and technology barriers in those communications is also critical.

The complete report, "Chronic Absence Patterns Across California Schools," is freely available via SI&A's website.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .