Policymakers & Funders


Attending school every day is fundamental to a student’s success, yet nearly a quarter of Baltimore City Public School Students miss 20 or more days of school each year. The issue of chronic absence is complex and often times requires layered supports that address both external barriers, like family instability and transportation, and barriers within the school building, like the quality of school climate. A multifaceted problem requires a multifaceted approach, leveraging multiple stakeholders from parents and community partners to school and district leaders.

A critical component to increasing attendance and lowering chronic absence is identifying the local, state, and sometimes federal policies that impact a student’s ability to get to school every day and stay in school. The funding community is an essential key to this puzzle, providing knowledge management and resources to address barriers and work within the policy framework.

What We Know in Baltimore:

According to research from the Baltimore Education Research Consortium (BERC), chronic absence in the first years of school predicts later chronic absence. Pre-K and K students who are chronically absent are:

  • 2-3 times more likely to be retained before third grade,
  • More often identified for special education services, and
  • Lower performing on assessments.


We also know that September attendance is particularly important:

  • Students who miss 2 or more days of school in September are significantly more likely to be chronically absent by the end of the school year.
  • Baltimore students who missed 2-4 days of school in September were 5 times as likely to be chronically absent.
  • Students who missed 5 or more days of school in September were 16 times as likely to be chronically absent.