Present, Engaged, and Accounted For

The Critical Importance of Addressing Chronic Absence in the Early Grades

Posted September 1, 2008
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The National Center for Children in Poverty
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NCCP Present Engagedand Accounted For 2008 cover


The research is clear: Missing school has significant consequences for America’s youngest learners. This report — an examination of chronic early absence in education — highlights how poor attendance cracks a child’s academic foundation. It explores causes and potential solutions for this all-too-common classroom challenge and makes a compelling case for giving this issue more attention in relevant child welfare initiatives.

Findings & Stats

Statements & Quotations

Key Takeaway

Going to school regularly is a critical first step in a child’s educational journey

Chronic absence from the classroom — missing more than one month out of each school year — can result in lingering academic struggles. First graders who were chronically absent in kindergarten post lower reading, math and general knowledge scores relative to classmates with better attendance records. Throw a second factor into the mix — poverty — and the impact of lost learning time is even more significant. Among this group, chronic absence in kindergarten predicts the lowest levels of educational achievement by the end of fifth grade.