What Works for Attendance?

School is starting and September is Attendance Month! NCECF is celebrating by featuring What Works for Third-Grade Reading: Regular Attendance. The resource is one of 12 new working papers that offer research-based policy, practice and program options to states and communities working to improve third grade reading proficiency. What Works for Third Grade Reading: Summer Learning was featured last week.

The new brief considers why regular attendance at preschool and the early grades matters for third grade reading proficiency, outlines its connection with other factors that impact early literacy, and highlights options that have been shown to move the needle on attendance.

It is more difficult for children to learn to read and to gain other foundational academic skills when they miss many school days. Students who are chronically absent in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade are much less likely to read at grade level by third grade and are more likely to have poor attendance in later grades.(1) The problems multiply when students are chronically absent several years in a row. Consistent school attendance in the early grades helps boost children’s academic learning, achievement, and motivation and can help close the achievement gap for disadvantaged students, starting in the early grades.(2)

Chronic absence is an early warning measure and an early predictor of student performance. It is one of the only available measures for the early (untested) grades. Nationwide, 11 percent of elementary school students are chronically absent, and the numbers are similar in North Carolina.

What Works for Third Grade Reading is a collection of 12 working papers that address whole-child, birth-to-age-eight factors that support children’s optimal development and improve reading proficiency. The resource was produced by the Institute for Child Success and the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation, in collaboration with BEST NC, to support the work of the NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading (Pathways) initiative.


(1) Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2013). Early Warning Confirmed: A Research Update on Third-Grade Reading. Retrieved from http://www.aecf.org/m/resourcedoc/AECF-EarlyWarningConfirmed-2013.pdf and Schorr, L. B. (2007). Pathway to Children Ready for School and Succeeding at Third Grade. Retrieved from http://first5shasta.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/PathwayFramework9-07.pdf

(2) Attendance in the Early Grades: Why It Matters for Reading. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.attendanceworks.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Attendance-in-the-Early-Grades.pdf