How Standard Education is Helping School Districts Combat Chronic Absenteeism

April 16, 2024

It is not uncommon for school-age children to miss a day or two of school, whether for a family vacation or due to sickness. However, chronic absenteeism, which means missing 10 percent or more of school days due to absence for any reason, can significantly impact their academic performance and the rankings of your school district. 

Chronic absenteeism can make it harder for students to learn how to read by the third grade, a requirement set by the federal government. By the sixth grade, absenteeism is one of the three early warning indicators that can impact a student's likelihood of graduating from high school.

Schools may fail to notice chronic absences as they only count the number of students attending school every day and may not have updated information to see trends of those missing too much school and why. But, as administrator, you can play an essential role in identifying and supporting those students early by actively tracking excused and unexcused absences and suspensions.

Chronic absence is not just a statistic but a crucial indicator of a student's academic performance and future graduation risk. Under the guidelines set by the Every Student Succeeds Act, established in 2015, states must expand school accountability beyond standardized test scores and graduation rates, making it a more reliable measure. 

The chronic absence data is not just a requirement for school districts to report to the U.S. Department of Education but an important metric that can help administrators and students work together to succeed and meet the ESSA requirements. 

Tackling chronic absenteeism post-COVID

While chronic absenteeism was an issue before the pandemic, its levels post-pandemic have significantly increased, resulting in substantial learning setbacks. Even though most schools have returned to in-person instruction, student attendance continues to be uneven. 

Across the United States, chronic absenteeism has increased significantly in recent years. In 2018, the rate was 15 percent, which surged to 28 percent by 2022. Although there was some improvement in 2023, with rates decreasing in 33 out of 39 states that reported data, the chronic absenteeism rate remained 75 percent higher than the pre-pandemic baseline, per a 2024 American Enterprise Institute report.

Our real-time dashboard can segment your student data by district, school, or grade making it easy to gather actionable insights

However, consistent student attendance helps maintain a steady learning environment and ensures all students stay on track.

In Houston County, home to over 30,000 students across 38 schools in Georgia, the challenge of chronic absenteeism intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Absences, particularly those related to health concerns, rose exponentially, underscoring the urgency of addressing the issue. Recognizing the severity, Houston County turned to Standard Ed’s solutions to tackle the problem head-on.

"We first noticed the uptick in absences through an analysis of our daily attendance data. It was deeply concerning, especially as absentee rates climbed sharply during the pandemic,” said Dr. Steven Hornyak, Director of District & School Effectiveness, Houston County School District.

“We recognized that beyond the immediate health concerns, there was an urgent need to ensure that our students did not fall behind academically. Immediate and targeted action was necessary to support our students' learning, as each day missed could potentially widen the academic gap." 

"The dashboards from Standard Ed were invaluable. They helped us pinpoint not just who was absent but why—information critical for understanding the underlying issues related to attendance. We tailored our interventions accordingly, from addressing health concerns to providing additional academic support and community resources." — Dr. Hornyak.

Houston County's chronic absenteeism rate is now 17.8%, which is significantly lower than the national average.

Monitor absenteeism in your school district

As the American Enterprise Institute report mentioned, chronic absenteeism needs to be studied in real time. Standard Education’s platform does just that—it helps process your district’s student data daily so you can get actionable insights to improve your schools’ performance—from attendance to graduation rate and assessments. 

Standard Education's Attendance dashboard updates nightly, helping leadership stay up-to-date on students that are chronically absent or at-risk across your school district.

Standard Education’s core offering, Analytics, provides effortless data updates nightly that can be visualized in various dashboards, allowing you to stay informed of your students’ progress. We not only help you process your data, we lend a hand with how to put it into action within your district.

Our dashboards are updated nightly and pull in two data points to monitor chronic absenteeism:

  • High level student attendance. This report shows the number and type of absences for each student, including in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension, excused, and unexcused absences—by school, by grade, by gender across the district and down to a specific school.
  • Detailed student attendance. From this, we can determine which periods a student missed, whether it was the entire day and any teacher comments about those absences. Identify students that are chronically absent or approaching chronic status and make a plan to address it.

Empower your school district to proactively identify and address chronic absenteeism trends with ease using our real-time dashboards and coaching from our education experts to implement initiatives.

Standard Education can help lessen the workload and empower your educators to take the lead with the right insights. Book a demo today.

Standard Education is a powerful data toolkit brought to you by Standard Co.