Reducing Chronic Absence in Connecticut's Schools: A Prevention and Intervention Guide for Schools and Districts

What is chronic absence?

Student Attendance Rate =
Student’s Total Days of Attendance
Student’s Total Days of Membership*

Chronic absence is defined as missing 10 percent or greater of the total number of days enrolled during the school year for any reason. It includes excused, unexcused, disciplinary absences and mental health wellness days. For example, a student who has been enrolled for the first 30 school days at the beginning of the school year and has been absent three of those days is chronically absent.

Chronic Absence vs. Truancy

Chronic absence vs. truancy

Chronic absence is different from truancy (missing too much school without permission) as well as average daily attendance (a school-level measure, not a student- level indicator, for how many students are typically in attendance at school each day).

Chronic absence and truancy are not interchangeable terms. They describe different aspects of the absenteeism problem and require different approaches. Truancy is a term that generally refers to unexcused absences. Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S.) Section 10-198a (b)(1) and (2) defines truancy as four unexcused absences in one month or 10 unexcused absences in a school year. Responses to truancy are usually about school rule compliance and can lead to court intervention.

For more detail on determining if an absence is excused or unexcused, download the CSDE guidance document for excused and unexcused absences.

Chronic absence, on the other hand, incorporates all absences: excused, unexcused absences, and suspen- sions and expulsions served. By monitoring chronic absence, the focus is on the academic consequences of lost instructional time and on preventing absences before students fall behind in school. It is an early indicator that a student may fall behind in the classroom.

Did You Know?

Just two days per month can lead to chronic absence.

10% of a school year = 18 days of absence = two days per month


Why we may not notice chronic absence. Absences add up. Chronic absence= 18 days of absence = 2 days a month



Effective July 1, 2015, Public Act 15-225, An Act Concerning Chronic Absence, and codified in C.G.S. Section 10-198c, enacted the following definitions:

Chronically absent means a child enrolled in a school under the jurisdiction of a local or regional board of education whose total number of absences, at any time during a school year, is equal to or greater than 10 percent of the total numbers of days a student is enrolled during such school year.

Absence means an excused absence, unexcused absence, or disciplinary absence, defined by the State Board of Education (see below).

The Connecticut State Board of Education policy states:

A student is considered to be “in attendance” if present at his/her assigned school, or an activity sponsored by the school (e.g., field trip), for at least half of the regular school day. Students are absent when serving an out-of-school suspension or expulsion.

According to this policy, a student who is not “in attendance” is considered absent. The definitions of excused and unexcused absences apply only to those absences that meet the standards of the State Board of Education guidance on excused and unexcused absences. For example, the definitions do not apply to tardy students (i.e., those late for school but who would be considered as “in attendance” according to the above policy).

Truant – according to C.G.S. Section 10-198a, a “truant” is a student who has four unexcused absences in a month (period of time, not specific months named in a calendar) or 10 unexcused absences in a school year.

*Student's Total Days of Membership equals the number of instructional days a student has been enroled in the current school for the current school year.