If you’re not in school, then you’re not learning. Student chronic absence—defined as missing at least one month of school—is a strong signal of current, and predictor of future, academic and social struggles. Evidence shows that students who are chronically absent fall behind academically and drop out more often. In fact, chronic absence in kindergarten predicts the lowest levels of educational achievement at the end of fifth grade. In recent studies conducted in Baltimore, half of students who are chronically absent in the 6th grade eventually drop out in high school.
The reasons for chronic absence are multi-faceted, including housing instability, chronic health conditions, family crises, parental attitudes/norms around importance of attendance, etc. In Baltimore, chronic absence rates are high, begin early, and continue:
- 25% of Kindergarten students are chronically absent, and about half of these students go on to be chronically absent in grades 1 and 2.
- 12% of elementary school students are chronically absent.
- 16% of middle school students are chronically absent.
- In high-poverty neighborhoods, and schools serving those neighborhoods, chronic absence can easily double the average rates cited above.
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