Chronic absenteeism is a red alert that students are headed for academic trouble and potentially dropping out of high school. In Hawai‘i, students are labeled chronically absent if they miss 15 or more days of school for any reason.
Chronic absenteeism is one of our most powerful predictors of whether students succeed.
- Even when we account for factors like poverty, previous performance, and disadvantage, students who are chronically absent perform worse than their peers.
- Chronically absent students have lower GPAs than their peers the year they were chronically absent and the year after.
- Chronically absent students score lower on reading and math exams, and make slower gains than their peers.
- Students who are chronically absent one year are 35 percent more likely than their peers to be chronically absent the nextyear.
Too many Hawaii students are chronically absent.
Chronic absenteeism is a priority for Hawai‘i public schools.
- Nearly 1 in 5 Hawaii public school students were chronically absent in each of the last four years
- Nearly 1 in 4 students from economically disadvantaged families and nearly 1 in 3 students with disabilities were chronically absent in each of the last four years
- Chronic absenteeism occurs in every grade.
- Chronic absenteeism is a key metric in the joint Board and Department of Education Strategic Plan.
- Chronic absenteeism is part of the school accountability system known as the Strive HI Performance System.
- Educators can regularly view students’ absenteeism data through secure, online portals and system leaders, including principals, CASs and the Deputy Superintendent, receive regular reports on chronic absenteeism rates.
Chronic absenteeism can be invisible or difficult to notice.
Students miss school for many reasons, some of which we can help avoid.
- Missing 15 days of school can happen by missing less than two days a month.
- Multiple sporadic absences, such as a 1 – 2 month, cause as many academic challenges as consecutive absences do.
We can act together to prevent and address chronic absenteeism.
- Students cannot attend: they have medical emergencies, illness, or persistent health problems; have family responsibilities that require them to work; transportation issues; involved in juvenile justice system or have been suspended.
- Students will not attend: they avoid going to school because they feel unsafe or unwelcome at school, perhaps due to bullying, harassment, or embarrassment issues
- Students do not attend: they or their family do not see the value of being in school, prefer to do other things, or aren’t being held accountable for missing school.
- Public awareness campaigns, parent engagement efforts, and community efforts can help students and families understand the importance of going to school.
- Family, school, and community partnerships can help reduce he barriers to attendance, such as health, employment, truancy, and transportation issues.
- School schedules can take into account “high-absence” days, such as the day after Halloween, days with short weeks and days following breaks.
- Schools can create positive school environments where students have high expectations and a safe and engaging environment to learn.
- By monitoring attendance, we can drive early and targeted intervention students are on-track, or are already, chronically absent.