Consistent school attendance in the early grades improves children’s learning and achievement.

Chronic absenteeism is an early predictor of student performance. As early as prekindergarten, children who are chronically absent (in NC, miss 10 percent of the academic year or about 18 days total for any reason) are:

  • less likely to read proficiently by the end of third grade,
  • more likely to be retained, and
  • less likely to develop the social skills needed to persist in school.

Improving attendance is actionable. Schools and districts across the country have reduced chronic absence by:

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of all NC elementary school students chronically absent (2021-2022)
of all elementary school students chronically absent nationwide (2021-2022)
of NC elementary schools have 30 percent or more of students chronically absent
states include chronic absence in their school accountability system (NC does not)

What Can We Do About It?

 What supports regular school attendance?

Attendance Works recommends a tiered approach that starts with looking at the whole school. These foundational supports are: Tier 1 – prevention-oriented supports for attendance; Tier 2 – more personalized outreach or early intervention; and Tier 3 – intensive intervention.

Tiered Pyramid Graphic with Percents

Active student and family engagement is a key chronic absence prevention strategy. Our NCECF Action Brief discusses holistic and equitable engagement strategies that meet families where they are and involve them in their children’s learning. 

Positive Conditions for Learning - graphic - WITH Title

NCECF has considered the current NC state, district and school-level policies and practices around regular school attendance and has made recommendations for action.

Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Design Teams co-created the Pathways Action Framework, focusing in on three areas that directly impact third grade reading proficiency:

  • Social-emotional health
  • High quality birth through age eight care and education
  • Regular school attendance

Explore the Pathways Action Framework here.

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