Use data to determine where and how to target resources


Use data to identify where and how to target resources. You can leverage data showing which schools and/or student populations have the highest levels of chronic absence.

Use this data to determine where additional investments of district and community resources are needed to understand and address the causes of chronic absence.

Examine chronic absence rates by schools, grade, classroom, neighborhood, poverty rates and student subgroups (e.g. ethnicity, language, involvement in special education, and gender). High levels of chronic absence are a sign: more outreach is needed to build a positive connection to students and families to help them understand the value of strong attendance and to motivate showing up even when conditions are challenging.

Knowing which places and populations have the highest rates of chronic absence can also offer insights into who— from the school or community— can help to ensure that your attendance effort has people involved with the connections, knowledge and expertise that is needed to understand the situation and carry out effective solutions.

When there is a large number of chronically absent students in a school or neighborhood or from a particular population, it often indicates there are systemic challenges such as untreated health issues, transportation, trauma and unstable housing that need to be addressed.

Often these barriers to attendance require support from community partners. When schools and community partners work together, they can use data to develop a deeper analysis of the factors contributing to chronic absenteeism for a particular student, school, community or state. Our report, Portraits of Change, provides examples of how to reduce chronic absence.

You can also use data to look for positive outliers, or schools that have low rates of chronic absence despite challenging circumstances. These schools can offer strategies—and living proof—that chronic absence can be reduced. Try our toolkit to help you find these outliers.


In Springfield, Massachusetts, dozens of elementary school students and sometimes their parents arrive at school early to join school staff and walk around the schoolyard. The 100 Mile Club program provides a healthy and positive start to the school day. The school also organized a “Walking School Bus” led by teachers and parents. Both of these daily walk programs have boosted parent engagement, and average daily attendance rates have improved, school officials report.

In Oregon the Tribal Attendance Pilot Project (TAPP) uses family advocates to build
a culture of school-wide attendance. TAPP also helps American Indian families learn to trust public schools which in the past sought to strip native children of their language and customs, even forcibly removing them from families. In the Willamina School District , the chronic absence rate dropped from 48.02 percent to 42.40 percent.