Chronic Absenteeism: Definition and Strategies

Instructor: Vanessa Carter
Chronic absenteeism can have a major impact on the academic success of students. This lesson will explore and define absenteeism and strategies to support students.

Importance of Regular Attendance

Consistent school attendance is critical for many reasons. When students miss school, they miss instruction, and playing catch up be very difficult, especially in older grades. Daily attendance is like building a wall. As a student attends school each day, each lesson adds a block to the wall. When a student is chronically absent, they miss blocks of learning, causing gaps or holes, which can have a negative impact on their academic achievement in future grades. Also encouraging students to attend school everyday sends the message to students that school is important and should be taken seriously!

What Is Chronic Absenteeism?

According to the Education Commission of the States, the average number of school days in most school years is 180 days. The criteria for chronic absenteeism varies, but generally students who miss 10 or more days of school or 10% or greater of the school year are considered chronically absent. It is very important that students, as much as possible, attend school everyday so that they can receive consistent instruction and so teachers can track student progress and provide interventions and support if necessary.


Strategies to prevent absenteeism are necessary in any school environment. Students in all grades should be reminded of the importance of regular school attendance. These are some examples of ways to support students.

  • Positive School Environment

This is one of the most important strategies. All schools should take a look at their school environment to make sure that the school and classrooms are friendly, student-centered and bully-free. (Often times a student may fake an illness to avoid school work or because they may be experiencing bullying in school.)

It helps to have a consistent method for parents and students to communicate concerns or problems of this nature to teachers and administrators so that any negative issue can be addressed right way. Effective communication creates an open relationship with parents and students, which supports a positive school culture. This can be done by having a suggestion box, email and phone numbers readily available for who to contact if there is a problem and to encourage frequent correspondence.

  • Written Correspondence

Another important strategy in addressing frequent absenteeism is written correspondence with parents when a student begins to miss days. Letters should be sent home to notify parents that their student is in danger of chronic absenteeism. This can also be a way for schools to provide updated information about attendance status. Open communication can also open dialogue that reveals problems that are preventing regular attendance and allows the school to find ways to provide support.

  • Incentives and Awards

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