Attendance has been increasingly the focus of attention among school divisions and educators. According to research, regular attendance is a significant factor in a student’s success:
- Chronic absenteeism correlates to low academic achievement;
- Absenteeism is a powerful predictor of dropout rates;
- Absenteeism has been linked to poor outcomes later in life.
Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing ten percent or more of the academic year for any reason, including excused absences, unexcused absences, and suspensions. Based on a 180-day school year, that means approximately 18 days per year or 2 to 3 days per month.
Truancy is the act of accruing one or more unexcused absences, where the parent is unaware of or does not support the student’s absence, or where the parent’s provided reason for the absence is not acceptable to the school administration.
Missed instruction, regardless of the reason, can have significant academic consequences. Therefore, the broader emphasis is on improving attendance for every student.
Addressing Chronic Absenteeism
Chronic Absenteeism Task Force
Dr. Coons' statewide chronic absenteeism task force has shared videos and discussion guides to support school divisions in improving attendance.
A best practice for shifting to the chronic absenteeism lens (as opposed to a focus on truancy) is the creation of attendance teams at the school level and division level. This can be a new team or folded into another team (VTSS, Climate, Leadership, etc.).
Attendance teams should promote a culture of attendance and intentionally plan attendance-related activities to occur throughout the school year. For sample templates and planning calendars, refer to the Attendance Works Year-Long Planning Tools.
A Multi-Tiered Approach for Improving Attendance
Attendance teams should lead schools in selecting strategies to improve attendance. An impactful technique to reduce chronic absenteeism is to partner with families. It is also important for schools to recognize good and improved attendance.
As attendance teams review school-wide and student-level data, some students will need more individualized support. Strategies to provide extra support to identified students include the 2 x 10 strategy, mentoring, and student support plans. For additional evidence-based strategies regarding reducing chronic absenteeism, please visit the Attendance Playbook.
Virginia Code and Regulations
Virginia Code and regulations relevant to attendance and absenteeism include the following:
- Code of Virginia §22.1-254 addresses compulsory attendance and exemptions to compulsory attendance.
- Code of Virginia § 22.1-258 addresses truancy and the intervention process.
- Chapter 730 of the Administrative Code of Virginia consists of three sections:
Information and Data
- School Quality Profiles
- VDOE Graduation, Completion, & Dropout Data
- Chronic Absenteeism in the Nation's Schools – U.S. Department of Education
- Data Matters: Using Chronic Absence to Accelerate Action for Student Success (PDF) – Everyone Graduates Center, Attendance Works
Toolkits and Resources
- Every Student, Every Day: A Community Toolkit to Address and Eliminate Chronic Absenteeism – U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Education
- Attendance Playbook: Smart Solutions for Reducing Chronic Absenteeism (PDF) – FutureEd, Attendance Works
- Count Us In! Working Together to Show That Every School Day Matters (PDF) – Attendance Works
- Addressing the Health-Related Causes of Chronic Absenteeism: A Toolkit for Action (PDF) – Healthy Schools Campaign
- Strategies for Improving Attendance in Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten: Toolkit for Districts, Schools, and Early Childhood Providers (PDF) – State of New Jersey Department of Education, U.S. Department of Education’s Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Mid-Atlantic
- Reducing Chronic Absence in Connecticut's Schools (PDF) – Connecticut State Department of Education
- In School Every Day: Addressing Chronic Absenteeism Among Students Experiencing Homelessness (PDF) – National Center for Homeless Education
- Communities Supporting Youth Attendance Toolkit – Communities Supporting Youth Collaborative
- Chronic Absence Data Tracking Tool – Attendance Works
Ginsburg, A., Jordan, P., and Chang., H. (August 2014). Absences Add Up: How School Attendance Influences Student Success. Retrieved from https://www.attendanceworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Absenses-Add-Up_September-3rd-2014.pdf