In Connecticut, 50,376 students were chronically absent from school during the 2015-16 school year. This represents 9.6 percent of all students in Connecticut public schools, and the rates are significantly higher in many communities.
On July 7, 2015, Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed Public Act 15-225, An Act Concerning Chronic Absence. Section 3 of that act requires the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE), in consultation with the Interagency Council for Ending the Achievement Gap, to develop chronic absenteeism prevention and intervention guidance for use by local and regional boards of education. This guide is designed to meet and expand on the intent of the legislation. It provides a framework that local and regional school district administrators can use to strategically plan and implement preventions and interventions that will lead to the reduction of chronic absence in prekindergarten through Grade 12 within their districts. Although parents are key partners in reducing chronic absence, they are not the primary audience for this guide. This guide does provide messaging tools that school district administrators can use to educate and engage parents regarding the importance of good attendance.
The Connecticut State Department of Education has worked with Attendance Works, a national expert on chronic absence, and consulted with key state and local stakeholders in the creation of this guidance. The guide offers links to national resources, tools, and strategies. All resources from Attendance Works are available for schools and districts to download and customize at no charge.
The guide provides answers to the following questions:
- What is chronic absence?
- Why are students chronically absent?
- Why is chronic absence an important issue for Connecticut?
- How do we know if chronic absence is affecting learning in our district?
- What can a district do to improve attendance?
- Who else can be involved with reducing chronic absence?
Absences Add Up!
Chronic absence is defined as missing 10 percent or more of days of school for any reason, including all absences, excused, unexcused, and disciplinary. Being chronically absent has a significant impact on a student’s ability to read at grade level, perform academically, and graduate on time.