Use data to determine where and how to target resources

Chronic absence data can be used to determine where additional investments of school, 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 communication and outreach is needed to learn about barriers to being in school. This outreach can help build a positive connection to students and families and help them understand the value of regular attendance.

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 it can indicate that foundational strategies, or practices for the whole school that promote positive conditions for learning, have been eroded. When positive conditions are in place, students are more likely to attend and be engaged. High chronic absence in a neighborhood or from a particular population 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 local agencies and 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, Using Chronic Absence Data to Improve Conditions for Learning, provides examples of how to reduce chronic absence.

You can also use data to look for 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.

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