Chronic Absenteeism in Schools Deepens, Experts Say

The rising trend of student absenteeism has been a cause of concern to all stakeholders involved, including school administrators, government organizations, and parents.

When students miss school for more than 15 days in a year or roughly three days a month (10% of school year days), their lives are significantly affected. The effects go beyond the education aspect, extending to the social learning aspect of life too.

According to the 2020-21 statewide school attendance data from School Innovations & Achievement company in California, the chronic absenteeism rate in district schools has worsened in 2021. The research sought to compare chronic absenteeism data for October across three years, 2019/20/21. They found the rate 11.2% in 2019, 18% in 2020, and 27.4 % in 2021. The Black and Hispanic/Latino students were most affected, with a chronic absence rate of 34.6% and 29.9%, respectively.

Experts acknowledge that the problem has been growing at an alarming rate and needs to be faced head-on.

The fact is this dilemma is challenging to improve since the causes are varied and complex. However, when you make school attendance a team effort, it becomes possible to address the issue one student at a time.

Consequences of Absenteeism

Long-term adverse effects- Research shows that absenteeism has a detrimental impact on young people, stretching beyond their school days. The long-term effects of absenteeism include poverty, involvement in crime and illegal acts, and health concerns like depression, stress, social anxiety, and thoughts of self-harm.

Low academic achievement- Missing school, especially in the early years, is one of the leading causes of reading difficulties. The struggle to read proficiently leads to low academic performance, affecting students’ academic achievement and grade scores long before they can even get to writing their college applications.

School dropout- Students who miss school regularly in their younger grades are highly likely to drop out. According to research, absenteeism has been the primary risk factor for students leaving high school before graduating. It ranked higher than even low test scores on predicting students likely to drop out of high school.

Solutions to Chronic Absenteeism

Attendance Monitoring

Do not wait until the students’ absence from school becomes chronic for you to act. Have an attendance program in place where the administrators can keep track of each student’s attendance and absence, identify those at risk of chronic absenteeism, and help them proactively before it’s too late. The program should allow parents to inform the school whenever the child is absent through a text message.

An excellent example of an attendance monitoring program is the Attendance and At-Risk platform from TrueCare™. This service helps reduce absenteeism by offering visibility to at-risk students, creating a social connection between the school and parents, cutting administration costs through automation, and helping improve the mental health of the students to keep them safe.

Embrace Engagement

One of the leading reasons for students missing school is as a result of feeling disengaged. Such students feel unwelcome at school and in their classrooms and are likely to negatively impression the school and the education system in general. A disengaged student will find it hard to navigate social situations and make friends.

When schools embrace engagement, they create a caring environment where students feel welcome and accepted. Such an environment encourages respect, personal responsibility, and safety. When students feel connected and that someone will notice when they miss school, they are likely to show up. When parents know their child’s curriculum and schedules, they are most likely to keep the child on their toes and ensure that they attend school regularly.

Reward Attendance

Having a reward program for students who attend school frequently can significantly help reduce truancy. Such can be as simple as a certificate, recess time, recognition at school events, free meal coupons, or other special privileges that act as positive reinforcements. The program works with a working system in place to track and review each student’s attendance. This acts as an incentive to encourage students to attend school without fail.

Address widespread Issues

The information on your absence management program can help you identify patterns amongst chronically absent students. When you identify the most common underlying factors, address them. Some of the most common factors identified include:

  • Limited access to health care
  • Transportation issues
  • Limited access to grooming essentials and clean clothes
  • Lack of childcare/ parental support, before or after school
  • Mental health
Reduce Absenteeism and Keep Your Students Safe

Have Parents Take up an Active Role in enforcing the attendance

Parents are responsible for ensuring that their children are accountable for missing school days, especially those in younger grades. Parents can encourage their children to attend school through:

  • Provide a safe and conducive environment at home where children feel at peace and appreciate
  • Review the student’s school performance and show an interest in their school experiences
  • Set school goals and reinforce them with rewards when met
  • Schedule appointments and trips during school break to avoid missing school
  • Be a role model and adhere to school absence requirements like sending a doctor’s note, calling/texting when absent, etc.
  • Talk to children about the need for regular school attendance and anxiety and depression that may affect their school performance and life.


More times than not, chronic absenteeism is an indication that all isn’t well; pay attention. Addressing the issue of absenteeism early enough benefits the students, school administration, teachers, and parents. All parties get to reap the benefits. Incorporating technology in monitoring attendance and absenteeism makes it easy and convenient for all the parties involved.


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