Solving Chronic Absence:

Information and resources for educators and community coalitions

Actions Needed to Solve Chronic Absence

Use Data to Inform Actions

Key Concepts

  • Early, reliable indicator of school failure: Chronic absence data are one of our earliest indicators that students are not on course and may be in danger of failing.
  • Parents have valuable information: The chronic absence indicator in Student Information Repository System (SIRS) is extremely valuable to helping school leadership understand where patterns of chronic absence occur. Remember that parents are valuable data sources for helping to understand why such patterns exist.
  • Beneficial for early warning system: Using chronic absence data as part of an early warning system has many advantages. The data:
    • are collected on all students each day and are readily accessible;
    • allow us to identify who is missing 10 percent of school as well as where this most frequently occurs, making it easier to target resources and efforts; and
    • allow us to take action early on, at a point in time when prevention interventions are most likely to succeed.

How it's Measured & What it Informs

What's measured?

@ the student level...

the year-to date number of absences for any reason as a percentage of the total number of school days enrolled.

How does it inform?

  • Is there something preventing this child from coming to school that we need to consider at the individual, family, and/or community level?
  • How can we engage this student so he/she feels more connected to the school community (e.g., provide a mentor)?


@ the school level...

the year-to date number of students whose rate of absence is 10% or greater as a percentage of the total number of students enrolled anytime during the school year.

  • What is the rate of chronic absence for the schools in our district and community?
  • Where do we see the highest rates?
  • Are the high rates concentrated in particular schools or grade levels within the district and community?
  • Are some students more at risk than others?
  • What can we change about our school culture to improve student attendance (e.g., policies that undermine parent engagement)?
  • Are there barriers in the community that need to be addressed so the community is safer for children walking to school (e.g., street lights on in early winter hours; snow plowed early on streets that are commonly used to get to school)?

Student Information Repository System (SIRS)

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has developed attendance and chronic absence verification reports, available in L2RPT Report Guides. These reports provide school leadership with information about the individual students who are chronically absent and highlight chronic absence rates for schools, classrooms and various student groups (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender, ability level, language proficiency, migrant status).

For more detailed information, review:

  • A memo to BOCES District Superintendents, Superintendents of Public School Districts, Principals of Public Schools and Charter School Leaders regarding reports and guidelines.
  • Additional attendance information (e.g., regulations, laws, etc.) is available at the NYSED website.
  • SIRS-360: Daily Attendance/Absence This report is the daily summary of absences reported for each school and useful for verifying the accuracy of data that is reported to the State Education Department.
  • SIRS-361: Year to Date Attendance/Absenteeism This report shows the number and percentage of students missing between 0-4%, 5-9% and 10% or more of enrolled school days.