Three empty chairs in a classroomChronic absence is missing so much school for any reason that a student is academically at risk. It means missing 10 percent or more of the school year for any reason - excused, unexcused and suspensions. 

Research reveals that chronically absent students are on the fast track to failure. However, studies show that when districts, schools, communities and policymakers recognize and address factors leading to chronic absenteeism, trends to failure can be reversed. The report Absences Add Up: How School Attendance Influences Student Success reveals that:

  • Poor attendance in the first month of school can predict chronic absence for the entire year.
  • Absenteeism in kindergarten can affect whether a child develops the grit and perseverance needed to succeed in school.
  • Absenteeism in preschool and kindergarten can influence whether a child will be held back in third grade.
  • Absenteeism in middle and high school can predict dropout rates.
  • Absenteeism influences not just chances for graduating but also for completing college.
  • Improving attendance is an essential strategy for reducing achievement gaps.
  • When students reduce absences, they can make academic gains.

Arkansas' ESSA Plan

Every Student Succeeds Act State Plan coverArkansas' Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan identifies Student Engagement as a School Quality and Success Indicator. Each Arkansas student can gain a full point on the Student Engagement indicator by missing less than five percent of school days in a year. A student is absent if he or she is not physically on school grounds and is not participating in instruction or instruction-related activities at an approved off-site location.

The Arkansas Department of Education, in collaboration with Attendance Works and the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, is pleased to provide professional development and resources to assist schools in the battle against chronic absenteeism.

A Call to Action

Please watch these videos to learn how you can help.

Screenshot from chronic absenteeism video
Chronic Absenteeism: Who is affected? Why does it matter? What can we do?
Screenshot from Why Does Attendance Matter video
Chronic absenteeism negatively effects our society. Students can only learn if they are present and engaged.
Screenshot from Attendance Works video
Attending school every day is essential to a brighter future for our children.

School and Community Resources

  • Teaching Attendance Toolkit (Resources for Teachers). Explore this resource full of tips, scripts, and free tools that can be tailored to the needs of your school and community. This toolkit introduces the four basic steps for incorporating attendance into day-to-day activities: Welcoming Environment, Engage Families, Early Intervention and Advocacy/School-wide Approach.
  • Bringing Attendance Home Toolkit (Tools for Engaging  Parents). This toolkit is intended to help the staff or leadership of any entity that works with parents, including schools, community-based organizations, parent organizations, and faith-based institutions. Its goal is to equip these staff and leaders with the tools to help parents understand why attendance matters and how they can help ensure their children's success in school by supporting attendance. This toolkit is filled with ideas, activities and materials including flyers, videos, and exercises to engage families in developing a habit of regular attendance to help students achieve success.
  • Relationships Matter:  A Toolkit for Launching an Elementary Success Mentor Attendance Initiative. This toolkit is designed to help schools develop and implement an Elementary Success Mentor Initiative. This approach recognizes the power of using chronic absence to provide an early intervention system that gets students to school so they do not miss important learning opportunities. It individualizes school planning by providing several school and district self-assessments to review data and determine strengths, areas for growth, and structure for the school to improve student attendance.

Additional Resources

For more resources, please go to Attendance Works and Chronic Absenteeism in the Nation's Schools.


For more information, please contact:

Arkansas Department of Education
Division of Elementary and Secondary Education
Learning Services
Four Capitol Mall
Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone: 501-683-5780
Fax: 501-683-6809

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