Chronic Absence Prevention


  • Consistent attendance starting in the early years in critical to gaining the social and academic skills essential to school success.
  • The experiences of regularly attending children are adversely affected when teachers must divert their attention to meet the needs of chronically absent children when they return to school.
  • Paying attention to early chronic absence can be an effective strategy for identifying and addressing challenges for children, families, communities, and schools early on.

Chronic Absence is defined as missing 10% or more of school over the course of a school year counting both excused and unexcused absences. Early Chronic Absence addresses K-3rd grade students.


An estimated one in ten kindergarten and first grade students are chronically absent nationally. 

Chronic early absence decreases when educational institutions and communities actively communicate the importance of going to school regularly to all students and their families, and reach out to families when their children begin to show patterns of excessive absence. At the same time, communities can help lower chronic absence by providing early childhood experiences that prepare children and families for entry into formal education.*

Attendance is higher when schools provide a rich, engaging learning experience, have stable, experienced and skilled teachers and actively engage parents in their children’s education.*

*Chang, H. & Romero, M. (2008). Present, engaged, and accounted for: The critical importance of addressing chronic absence in the early grades. National Center for Children in Poverty


Learn about successful strategies and campaigns that have improved attendance in community schools across the country

For parents:

For teachers and administrators:

What can schools do?

  • Examine data on chronic absence
  • Obtain background information on basic school and community conditions
  • Contact families when students are absent
  • Conduct school success discussion groups
  • Develop parent and student surveys


What can families do?

  • Set an early bedtime, and start getting ready for bed 30 minutes before bedtime
  • Have an alarm clock and set it regularly
  • Put the bus schedule on the refrigerator where it is easily visible
  • Allow time for the unexpected
  • Communicate with the school and let them know if your child needs to miss school and why

What can communities do?

  • Partner with school districts to share and monitor chronic absence data
  • Make attendance a community priority
  • Launch a public awareness campaign to convey the importance of going to school every day
  • Identify and address systemic barriers to school attendance
  • Advocate for strong policies and public investment