Solving Chronic Absence:

Information and resources for educators and community coalitions

The Basics About Chronic Absence

How is chronic absence different from other attendance information?

Annual Daily Attendance

Annual daily attendance is a collective measure of student attendance. Collectively, most schools have an ADA rate of 95% or better, which sounds as though attendance is not a problem. However, this is looking at the overall average and does not reflect whether or not some students in our schools repeatedly miss a large portion of school.

Annual Daily Attendance
Portion of students attending school

Truancy

Truancy is closely linked with attendance problems. However, this tends to be a problem for a very narrow portion of students, often older students. It is a narrow view of attendance problems because it addresses those students who missed school based on reasons not acceptable to the school. Most school attendance policies identify "allowable" reasons students may miss school (e.g., illness). By focusing only on students who miss school for unallowable reasons (i.e., unexcused absences) we do not have a good sense of those children repeatedly missing school--those who are chronically absent.

Truancy
Portion of students with unexcused absence

Chronic Absence

Chronic absence stands alone in its ability to identify specific children who are repeatedly missing school and considerable amounts of instruction. Students are considered chronically absent when they miss 10% of the days for which they are enrolled. The 10% is used since research has shown this is the tipping point for when detrimental consequences begin to occur. When we are able to identify the specific children who are missing large portions of school, we are able to direct resources more strategically and provide appropriate interventions that help them get to school and on track for learning.

  • How do we know who's chronically absent? School superintendents and principals can access information about which students are chronically absent and the rate of chronic absence in their classrooms, schools and districts by accessing the Student Information Repository System (SIRS).

Chronic Absence
Portion of students repeatedly missing school (10%)