The Importance of Being in School: A Report on Absenteeism in America’s Public Schools

America’s education system is based on the assumption that barring illness or an extraordinary event, students are in class every weekday. So strong is this assumption that it is not even measured. Indeed, it is the rare state education department, school district or principal that can tell you how many students have missed 10 percent or more of the school year or in the previous year missed a month or more school ? two common definitions of chronic absence.

Because it is not measured, chronic absenteeism is not acted upon. Like bacteria in a hospital, chronic absenteeism can wreak havoc long before it is discovered. If the evidence in this report is borne out through more systematic data collection and analysis, that havoc may have already undermined school reform efforts of the past quarter century and negated the positive impact of future efforts.

Students need to attend school daily to succeed. The good news of this report is that being in school leads to succeeding in school. Achievement, especially in math, is very sensitive to attendance, and absence of even two weeks during one school year matters. Attendance also strongly affects standardized test scores and graduation and dropout rates. Educators and policymakers cannot truly understand achievement gaps or efforts to close them without considering chronic absenteeism.

Read the summary or download the entire report at http://new.every1graduates.org/the-importance-of-being-in-school/.

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