Plank 2: Chronic Absenteeism
Changes in policy and practice can help increase attendance and decrease chronic absence, including: requiring the inclusion of the percentage of students who are chronically absent as part of the Civil Rights Data Collection, under the Department of Education’s Flexibility policy; and including chronic absenteeism as an indicator to be addressed by priority and focus schools.1 Specifically, chronic absenteeism should be part of the diagnostic analysis and improvement strategy implemented within priority and focus schools as well as included as an indicator in federal grant programs targeting low-performing schools, such as School Improvement Grants, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and Race to the Top. A policy framework for chronic absence would include tracking individual student attendance and absence in longitudinal student data systems; ensuring accurate and consistent entry of student attendance and absence data in longitudinal student data systems by investing in the development of statewide standards for what constitutes a full day of attendance; training of school staff and auditing of student attendance data; adopting a standard definition of chronic absence (missing ten percent or more of school days due to any type of absence, either excused or unexcused); regularly calculating and reporting chronic absence data statewide and by district, school, grade and subgroup; and reporting on chronic absence and describing how it will be reduced in school improvement plans. It is important also to note that starting a strong habit of attendance even before kindergarten can help parents and children form good habits from the earliest years.
Duncan, Arne. “Making the Middle Grades Matter.” Secretary Arne Duncan’s Remarks at the National Forum’s Annual Schools to Watch Conference. June 23, 2011. www.ed.gov/news/speeches/ makingmiddle-grades-matter Retrieved February 16, 2012. ↩