Early Intervention Matters:
How Addressing the Chronic Absence Can Reduce Dropout Rates


Early Intervention Matters:
How Addressing Chronic Absence Can Reduce Dropout Rates
May 24, 2013
  • Ms. Hedy Chang
    Director Attendance Works. Hedy Chang has spent more than two decades working in the fields of family support, family economic success, and education and child development. In February 2013, Hedy was named by the White House as a “Champion of Change” for her commitment to furthering African American Education.
  • Ms.Cecelia Leong
    Associate Director Attendance Works. Cecelia Leong has, for the past 12 years, used her skills as a writer, researcher and evaluator to document innovation and best practice on issues affecting children, youth and their families. In addition to facilitating peer-to-peer sharing between researchers, practitioners and consultants through the Peer Learning Network, Cecelia works to identify emerging technical assistance needs in reducing chronic absence and innovative tools to address those needs.
Chronic absence—missing 10% or more of school for any reason regardless of whether absences are excused or unexcused—is a red alert that students are headed for academic trouble and eventually for dropping out of high school. Nationwide, as many as 7.5 million students miss nearly a month of school every year. In some cities, as many as one in four are missing that much school. Contrary to popular perception, poor attendance isn’t just a problem in high school. It can start as early as kindergarten. Every year, one in 10 kindergarten and first grade students miss a month of school with excused or unexcused absences. Starting in kindergarten, research shows these absences can affect academic achievement, especially for low-income students unable to make up for lost time. Chronic absence can set a pattern of poor attendance and academic failure for older students, fueling the dropout rate.

Attendance Works is a national and state initiative that promotes better policy and practice around school attendance. The organization promotes tracking chronic absence data for each student beginning in kindergarten, or ideally earlier, as a key indicator for early identification and intervention.

Webinar participants will learn what the most recent national and state research says about the impact of chronic absence on key educational milestones, hear about successful efforts to turn around poor attendance and preliminary insights into what may be causing higher rates of absenteeism among students with disabilities.