Chronic absenteeism is a problem that affects everybody, not
just the students involved.
Students who miss school frequently, even at an early age,
are more likely to drop out. Having a high dropout rate creates obvious
problems for students, but it also can have serious economic and social
ramifications on the entire community.
On top of that, our schools are losing money because most school
districts are funded based on daily attendance. Across the county, absences
have cost school districts more than $100 million a year, according to a report from the California Attorney
The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) has joined
a nationwide effort to recognize Attendance Awareness Month in September and has pledged to raise awareness about the value of
regular school attendance while focusing on reducing chronic absenteeism in
Nationwide an estimated 5 million to 7.5 million students
are chronically absent each year, meaning they miss 10 percent or more of the
school year in excused and unexcused absences. That’s about 18 or 19 days in a
A student who is chronically absent any year between eighth
and 12th grade was 7.4 times more likely to drop out, one study shows. It has
been estimated that dropouts cost the state more than $46 billion each year,
including increased incarceration costs and lower tax revenues.
Chronic Absenteeism isn’t just a high school problem. One in
10 kindergarten and first-grade students is chronically absent each year. Those
students are less likely to read proficiently by the time they finish third
grade. Only about 17 percent of students who were chronically absent in
kindergarten and first grade could read at grade level by the end of third
grade, compared to 62 percent for those who attended regularly, according to preliminary
This September, schools, city agencies, community
nonprofits, faith-based groups, businesses and other organizations around the
nation are coming together to deliver the message that every school day counts.
They are committing time and resources to raise public awareness, dig deeper
into attendance data and work with community partners to improve school
attendance starting as soon as children enter school.
Chronic absence can be reduced when schools, communities and
families work together to build a culture of attendance and address barriers to