To be effective practitioners and policymakers, we must understand the mechanisms behind the problems we are hoping to fix. Before we can address the problem of chronic absenteeism within our schools and communities, we need to know which groups of students are most vulnerable, what issues are preventing them from attending school every day, and what interventions and resources are most effective. There is a large pool of research, from studies conducted at universities, advocacy groups, and local research institutions that helps us understand these questions and guide our actions.

The studies shared here have been vetted and grouped by the particular questions they focus on to better help our members find the resources they need. These categories are:

We will continue to update this page as new research becomes available.


About Chronic Absenteeism/Importance of School


Balfanz, R. and Byrnes, V. (May 2012). The Importance of Being in School. Retrieved from

This publication emphasizes both the magnitude and dire underreporting of chronic absence across the country and helps explain the populations and schools most vulnerable to it. Balfanz and Byrnes also discuss both the severe consequences of chronic absenteeism – including high school dropout and the school-to-prison pipeline, as well as interventions that are working.


Balfanz, R., Durham, R., and Plank, S. (2008). Lost Days: Patterns and Levels of Chronic Absenteeism Among Baltimore City Public School Students. Baltimore Education Research Consortium. Retrieved from

This brief discusses the analysis of attendance and chronic absence data from first and sixth grade students in Baltimore City from 1999 to 2006 and shares the patterns found across years.


Brown, R., & Jackson, J. (2014). Attending School Every Day: Making Progress, Taking Action in Oakland Schools. Oakland Achieves Partnership. Retrieved from

This report provides an overview of chronic absenteeism, what stakeholders can do to help, and how the Oakland, CA district, schools, and community are working to solve it.


Bruner, C., Discher, A., and Chang H. (November 2011). Chronic Elementary Absenteeism: A Problem Hidden in Plain Sight. Retrieved from

This research brief defines and discusses the consequences of chronic absenteeism, particularly in the early grades.


Durham, R., Bettencourt, A., Connolly, F. (2014). Measuring School Climate: Using Existing Data Tools on Climate and Effectiveness to Inform School Organizational Health. Baltimore Education Research Consortium. Retrieved from

This report connects school climate data from Baltimore City Public Schools to student attendance and suspension data to determine if climate interventions could be ways to improve student engagement and attendance.


Lamdin, D. J. (1996). Evidence of Student Attendance as an Independent Variable in Education Production Functions. Journal of Educational Research, 89(3), 155–62. Retrieved from

This study argues that most research of student academic outcomes does not account for student attendance as a contributing factor to achievement. The author uses attendance, as well as socioeconomic status and more traditional measures of educational “inputs” to analyze attendance data from Baltimore City.


Olson, L. S. (2014, July). Importance of September Attendance. Baltimore Education Research Consortium. Retrieved from

Using data from Baltimore, this policy brief highlights the importance of student attendance patterns in September in predicting later chronic absence.


Smith, T., Connolly, F., Pryseki, C. (2014). Positive School Climate: What It Looks Like and How It Happens. Baltimore Education Research Consortium. Retrieved from

Considering school climate as critical to attendance and achievement outcomes, this study considers the role of the principal and staff in improving the climate of a school.


The University of Utah: Utah Education Policy Center. (2012). Research Brief: Chronic Absenteeism. Retrieved from

This research brief shares the characteristics and patterns of Utah’s chronically absent student population.


About Our Partners


Gattis, M., et al. (2010). Examining the Effects of New York Experience Corps Members on Young Readers. Literacy Research and Instruction. 49, p. 299-314. Retrieved from

This paper studied the effects of utilizing older volunteers to tutor young students with struggles in reading and found that the Experience Corps volunteers were successful in improving students’ reading skills.


Lee, Y., et al. (2010). The Effect of the Experience Corps Program on Student Reading Outcomes. Education and Urban Society. Retrieved from

This study examines the effects on reading scores of students who were below-level in reading who worked with Experience Corps volunteers over the course of a school year.


Reducing Childhood Hunger with the School Breakfast Program: Maryland’s Report Card 2014-2015 School Year. Maryland Hunger Solutions. Retrieved from

This report raises awareness about the important role that school breakfast plays in reducing food insecurity among Maryland’s children and improving their overall health and well-being.  Food insecurity is a condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food – a problem that affects 1 in 8 Marylanders, many of whom are children.  Research shows that children who eat school breakfast are less likely to be food insecure and are more likely to have success in school.


Varma, V., et al. (2014). Experience Corps Baltimore: Exploring the Stressors and Rewards of High-intensity Civic Engagement. The Gerontologist. p. 1-13. Retrieved from

This study looks at the unique stressors and rewards of intergenerational volunteerism, as experienced by Experience Corps members working in Baltimore City schools.


Academic Implications


Alexander, K. L., Entwisle, D. R., & Olson, L. S. (2007). Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap. American Sociological Review, 72(2), 167–180. Retrieved from

This study uses longitudinal data from the Beginning School Study in Baltimore to look at the effects of differential access to and participation in summer learning opportunities across socioeconomic levels.


Coelho, R., Fischer, S., McKnight, F., Matteson, S., & Schwartz, T. (2015). The Effects of Early Chronic Absenteeism on Third-Grade Academic Achievement Measures. Robert M. LaFollette School of Public Affairs: University of Wisconsin-Madison. Retrieved from

This study looks at the results of early chronic absence on the academic outcomes of students in Wisconsin and finds that every day missed leads to a reduction in scores, disproportionately affecting minority, low-income, and geographically remote students.


Destination Graduation: Sixth Grade Early Warning Indicators for Baltimore City Schools: Their Prevalence and Impact. (2011). Baltimore Education Research Consortium. Retrieved from

This local study sought to determine if early warning factors in the sixth grade were predictive of future high school dropout and found that chronic absenteeism, previous retention and/or failure in core classes, and suspensions by sixth grade put a student at high risk of not completing high school.


Durham, R. and Plank, S. (2010). Maintaining High Achievement in Baltimore: An Overview of the Elementary Grade Trajectories of Four Recent City Schools First Grade Cohorts. Baltimore Education Research Consortium. Retrieved from

This study followed four cohorts of first-grade students in Baltimore as they progressed to fifth grade, to look at their achievement, attendance, promotion, and mobility patterns improved or changed over time.


Mac Iver, M. (2010). Gradual Disengagement: A Portrait of the 2008-09 Dropouts in the Baltimore City Schools. Baltimore Education Research Consortium. Retrieved from

This report looks to find similarities among Baltimore City students who dropped out of school during the 2008-2009 school year, especially in attendance records, previous interventions, and credit accumulation.


Mac Iver, M. (2011). Moving Forward to Increase Graduation Rates in Baltimore City. Baltimore Education Research Consortium. Retrieved from

This longitudinal study followed two ninth-grade cohorts to senior year to determine what factors most influenced graduation rates and found that attendance and course passing rates were most critical.


Mac Iver, M.A. and Messel, M. (2012). Predicting high school outcomes in the Baltimore City Schools. Washington, DC: Council of the Great City Schools.

This study sought to determine if early warning factors, particularly in the eighth and ninth grades, identified from previous research — chronic absenteeism, being overage, and a behavioral record – were also predictive of higher high school dropout rates in Baltimore.


Plank, S. et al. (2008). First Grade and Forward: A Seven-Year Examination Within the Baltimore City Public School System. Baltimore Education Research Consortium. Retrieved from

This longitudinal study looks at the pathways taken by students who were enrolled in first grade in Baltimore City during the 1999-2000 school year, focusing especially on mobility, enrollment, and attendance.


Strickland, V.P. (1998). Attendance and grade point average: A study. Report No. SP 038 147. Retrieved from ERIC database (ED 423224).

This research found positive correlations between attendance rates and grade point averages in Chicago high school students and uses these correlations to make recommendations to schools. 


Early Childhood


Attendance in Early Elementary Grades: Associations with Student Characteristics, School Readiness, and Third Grade Outcomes. (2011). Applied Survey Research. Retrieved from

This report uses longitudinal data to look at the effects of kindergarten readiness and early grades attendance on third-grade academic outcomes across socioeconomic levels.


Attendance in the Early Grades: Why it Matters for Reading. (2014). Attendance Works, The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Retrieved from

This brief encourages schools to engage families in improving chronic absenteeism in order to increase proficiency levels at the elementary level.


Chang, H. and Romero, M. (September 2008). Present, Engaged, and Accounted For: The Critical Importance of Addressing Chronic Absence in the Early Grades. Retrieved from

This research from Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation looks at local and national attendance data to determine risk factors, frequency, and results of chronic absence between Kindergarten and third grade, as well as interventions that have been used to reduce and prevent it.


Connolly, F., Grigg, J., Cronister, C., D’Souza, S. (December 2015). Born in Baltimore. Baltimore BERC. Retrieved from

This report describes the challenges service providers, especially Baltimore City Public Schools, experience as they work to increase Kindergarten readiness. Different pathways from birth to kindergarten reflect varying levels of kindergarten readiness seen in children when they enter school at age five.


Connolly, F. and Olson, L. (March 2012). Early Elementary Performance and Attendance in Baltimore City Schools’ Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten. Baltimore BERC. Retrieved from

This study looked at attendance data from Head Start, Pre-Kindergarten, and Kindergarten students in Baltimore City, as well as the students’ outcomes as they progressed through elementary school. The researchers found higher risk of retention and continued chronic absence for those who began their schooling with high rates of absence.


Ehrlich, S. B., Gwynne, J. A., Stitziel Pareja, A., Allensworth, E. M., Moore, P., Jagesic, S., & Sorice, E. (2014). Preschool Attendance in Chicago Public Schools: Relationships with Learning Outcomes and Reasons for Absences. University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. Retrieved from

Researchers used preschool attendance data to look at the impacts of frequent absences on Kindergarten readiness, finding that poor preschool attendance is correlated with future chronic absence and lower skill mastery. The study also looked at racial and socioeconomic differences between rates of illness and attendance.


Katz, M., Adams, G., & Johnson, M. (2015). Insights into Absenteeism in DCPS Early Childhood Program: Contributing Factors and Promising Strategies. Urban Institute. Retrieved from

This study looked at barriers faced by DC Public Schools Head Start and Pre-Kindergarten parents in getting their children to school, as well as the difficulties that school staff encountered in working with families to prevent chronic absence.


Family Background and Neighborhood Factors


Housing and Education Partnerships: A Case Study of Vancouver, Washington. Urban Institute. Retrieved from

This case study examines the partnership between the Vancouver Housing Authority and the public school system, to encourage attendance and better outcomes through data sharing, housing vouchers, and additional staff.


Implementing Safe Routes to School in Low-Income Schools and Communities. (July 2010). Safe Routes to School National Partnership.

This research-based resource guide focuses on ways to improve the safety (and perception of safety) in students’ routes to schools in low-income areas to encourage better attendance.


Nauer, K., Mader, N., Robinson, G., and Jacobs, T. (2014). A Better Picture of Poverty: What Chronic Absenteeism and Risk Load Reveal About NYC’s Lowest-Income Elementary Schools. The New School Center for New York City Affairs. Retrieved from

This report discusses the convergence of the New York City strategies for community schools and universal pre-kindergarten with state funding to reduce chronic absenteeism and looks at the schools that have the highest case load and are most disadvantaged.


Ready, Douglas. Socioeconomic Disadvantage, School Attendance, and Early Cognitive Development: The Differential Effects of School Exposure. (2010). Sociology of Education, 83(271).

This study uses longitudinal data to compare students’ cognitive development with social class, absences, and academic growth in kindergarten and first grade.


Romero, M., & Lee, Y.-S. (2008). The Influence of Maternal and Family Risk on Chronic Absenteeism in Early Schooling. National Center for Children in Poverty. Retrieved from

This report looks at the prevalence of risk factors, such as poverty, maternal health and education level, food insecurity, and more, in early childhood, as well as the cumulative impact resulting from experiencing multiple risk factors at an early age.


Rothman, S. (2001). School absence and student background factors: A multilevel analysis. International Education Journal2(1), 59–68. Retrieved from

This paper compares the backgrounds and attendance rates of non-indigenous and indigenous students in Australia, finding that indigenous students perform worse when in schools with large concentrations of lower-income and/or indigenous students.


Zimmerman, S., Lieberman, M., Kramer, K. & Sadler, B. At the Intersection of Transportation and Equity. Safe Routes to School National Partnership.

The authors discuss the limited transportation options available in low-income communities, and how this inequity affects residents’ ability to walk or bike to work and school.


Family and Community Engagement


Bringing Attendance Home: Engaging Parents in Preventing Chronic Absence. (2013). Attendance Works. Retrieved from

This toolkit is designed to help institutions facilitate family engagement in reducing chronic absenteeism through research, materials, and activities.


Epstein, J.L. and Sheldon S.B. (2002). Present and accounted for: Improving student attendance through family and community involvement. The Journal of Educational Research, 95(5), 308-318.

This longitudinal study looks at rates of daily attendance and chronic absence for students over time, as well as school interventions to involve families and communities to help improve attendance.


Sheldon, S.B. (2007). Improving student attendance with school, family, and community partnerships. The Journal of Educational Research, 100(5), 267-275.

The researcher compared attendance data from schools in Ohio that used school-wide practices of family and community engagement to schools that did not implement such programs and found that family engagement programs led to higher attendance rates.


Sheldon, S.B. and Epstein J.L. (2004). Getting students to school: Using family and community involvement to reduce chronic absenteeism. The School Community Journal, 14(2), 39-56.

The longitudinal study looks at attendance data in schools that actively engaged families and the community and identifies which particular engagement strategies had the highest impact on attendance rates.


Sheverbush, R.L., Smith, J.V., and DeGruson, M. (2000). A truancy program: The successful partnering of schools, parents, and community systems. Unpublished manuscript, Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KS (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 444102).

This paper discusses the strategies, partnerships, and results of a court-ordered truancy prevention program from Kansas, finding that the intersection of school staff, mental health professionals, and social services have led to positive outcomes for program participants and their school attendance.


Illnesses and Health Barriers


Factors Influencing School Attendance for Chronically Absent Students in the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD). (July 2014). UC Davis Center for Regional Change.

This study focused on the barriers that students in Sacramento face that prevent them from attending school, as well as the positive motivating factors that keep them engaged. The findings state that mere recognition that a student was absent has a large impact on a student’s future attendance; social supports and assistance with health, transportation, and parent engagement are also discussed as impactful practices.


Henderson, T., Hill, C., & Norton, K. (2014). The Connection Between Missing School and Health: A Review of Chronic Absenteeism and Student Health in Oregon. Upstream Public Health. Retrieved from

This report views chronic absenteeism through the public health lens and highlights efforts across the state of Oregon to not only address the health impacts and outcomes of chronic absence but also to report chronic absence rates publicly.


Irwin, M. K., & Elam, M. (2011). Are We Leaving Children with Chronic Illness Behind? Physical Disabilities: Education and Related Services,30(2), 67–80. Retrieved from

This study looks at the population of students with chronic illnesses and how schools are unprepared and ill equipped to deal with their needs on a consistent basis.


Lau, C. H., Springston, E. E., Sohn, M.-W., Mason, I., Gadola, E., Damitz, M., & Gupta, R. S. (2012). Hand hygiene instruction decreases illness-related absenteeism in elementary schools: a prospective cohort study. BMC Pediatrics12(1), 52.

This study compares schools with resources and programs to advocate hand-washing during flu season to determine if these programs impact illness-related absences for their students.


Pourat, N., & Nicholson, G. (2009). Unaffordable Dental Care Is Linked to Frequent School Absences. UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Retrieved from

This paper looks at the relationship between families who cannot afford dental care and their children’s rates of absenteeism, finding that students who do not have access to dental care miss more days than those who do.


Smith, R. (2014). Access and Absence: A Quasi-Experimental Study of the Effect of North Carolina School Health Centers on Student Absenteeism. Retrieved from

This paper looks at students’ mobility and attendance records in North Carolina over four years to determine the impact of having school-based health centers (SBHC) on student attendance, finding that the presence of a SBHC can lead to a reduction in student absences.


State of Chronic Absenteeism and School Health. (2012). Elev8 Baltimore and the Baltimore Student Attendance Campaign. Retrieved from

This report examines chronic absenteeism in Baltimore, the range of health-related issues that contribute to it, and the scope of school-based health services provided to address those issues.


Wilkie, K., & Jones, A. (2010). School ties: Keeping children with chronic illnesses connected to their school learning communities. Retrieved from

This report emphasizes the need for students with chronic illness who are continually enrolled in school but miss significant amounts of time to be fully engaged – socially and academically – within their school community to minimize the impact of their absences.


Truancy/Chronic Absence Prevention


Baker, M., Nady Sigmon, J., & Nugent, M. E. (2001). Truancy Reduction: Keeping Students in School (Juvenile Justice Bulletin). Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Retrieved from

This report looks at the detrimental impacts of truancy as a risk factor for juvenile delinquency and negative adult outcomes, including lower physical and mental health and lower earnings. The report also examines a number of truancy prevention programs that the Department of Justice feels are working to improve the problem.


Balfanz, R. and Byrnes, V. (2013). Meeting the Challenge of Combating Chronic Absenteeism: Impact of the NYC Mayor’s Interagency Task Force on Chronic Absenteeism and School Attendance and Its Implications for Other Cities. Everyone Graduates Center.

This study looks at the success of a particular city-led attendance strategy in New York City, which involved coordination among city agencies, “Success Mentors” for students, better collection and use of data, and connecting families to city resources to prevent barriers.


Balfanz, R., & Chang, H. N.-L. (2013, November). Improve Attendance: Increase Success. Principal Leadership, 20–24. Retrieved from

This piece explains chronic absenteeism and provides a set of recommendations for what principals can do to reduce chronic absence within their schools.


Bickelhaupt, D. L. (2011). Here! But What about Those Who Are Not? Reinforcement among Chronically Absent Elementary Students, Its Effectiveness, and the Why behind the Absences. Georgia School Counselors Association Journal18(1), 54–61. Retrieved from

This paper looks at interventions for chronic absence in elementary schools and found that the active presence of a school-based counselor, including daily check-ins with students, had a positive effect on attendance rates.


Cole, J. F. (2011). Interventions to Combat the Many Facets of Absenteeism: Action Research. Georgia School Counselors Association Journal18(1), 62–70. Retrieved from

This paper uses action research to examine attendance intervention programs, specifically through the school counseling lens, and determines that check-ins and rewards for chronically absent students are effective interventions.


Every School Day Counts: The Forum Guide to Collecting and Using Attendance Data. NFES 2009-804. (2009). National Forum on Education Statistics. Retrieved from

This paper discusses the importance of accurate attendance data, as well as the benefits of and challenges with using coding systems to have more nuanced attendance data for students.


Mac Iver. M. and Mac Iver, D. (2014). If We Build It, We Will Come: Impacts of a Summer Robotics Program on Regular Year Attendance in Middle School. Baltimore Education Research Consortium. Retrieved from

This paper looks at the impacts of a federally funded STEM summer school program in Baltimore City in 2012, finding increased attendance the following year among middle school students who attended the program.


Murphy, J. M., et al. (2000). Effects of a Universally Free, In-Classroom School Breakfast Program: Results from the Second Year of the Maryland Meals for Achievement Evaluation. Interim Report. Retrieved from

This report examines the findings from the implementation of universal free breakfast in six Maryland school districts and the impacts of the program on student attendance, behavior, achievement, and hunger.


Olson, L. S. (2014). A First Look at Community Schools in Baltimore. Baltimore Education Research Consortium. Retrieved from

This report looks at the challenges to and outcomes of the initial community schools implementation in Baltimore, finding higher rates of attendance and family engagement in the city’s community schools.


Olson, L., Connolly, F., and Kommajesula, A. (2013). Family League 2011-12 Out of School Time Programs in Baltimore City. Baltimore Education Research Consortium. Retrieved from

This report looks at the academic and performance outcomes of students participating in out of school time programming sponsored by the Family League of Baltimore City.


Railsback, J. (2004). Increasing student attendance: Strategies from research and practice. Portland, OR: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED484551.

This booklet highlights a variety of attendance strategies and interventions that can be used to combat issues commonly cited by students who are missing school, such as a lack of interest or engagement, poor relationships with adults in the school, and academic struggles.


Stern, R. and Meyers, T. (2015). Getting There: Improving Attendance in the Buffalo Public Schools. Partnership for the Public Good; Open Buffalo Innovation Lab. Retrieved from

This report examines the problem of chronic absenteeism in the Buffalo Public schools, finding higher rates of absences among students with disabilities and those who are low-income, as well as connections between attendance and Regents’ exams pass rates.


The Power of Positive Connections. (2014). Attendance Works. Retrieved from

 This toolkit emphasizes the need for a “priority early outreach for positive linkages and engagement” (PEOPLE) strategy at schools to keep students engaged and attending regularly.


Youth Perspective


Get Schooled. (2012). Skipping to nowhere: Students share their views about missing school. Report prepared for the Get Schooled Foundation. [Retrieved from].

This study interviewed high school students across the country to better understand why they miss school. The most prevalent reasons for missing school are because they lack connection between what they learn in school and their own lives, as well as between missing school and the consequences of doing so.