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The Dynamics of Chronic Absence and Student Achievement

October 31, 2016
In the Media

 new open access journal article published in Education Policy Analysis Archives describes a Gardner Center research study.


Students with low attendance miss important learning and developmental opportunities and research has shown that they are at heightened risk of negative outcomes. Although there is an extensive body of research on truancy, chronic absenteeism is not generally measured or tracked in school data systems and is therefore not as well understood. This analysis uses linked, longitudinal administrative records to examine chronic absence across years for elementary and secondary school students. We investigate chronic absence patterns over time, ramifications of chronic absence on students’ educational outcomes, and effects of continued absence across school years. Results illustrate the cumulative nature of chronic absence and the negative role of persistent chronic absence on students’ educational outcomes. We discuss implications of these results for state policies and intervention procedures.

About the Authors

DR. REBECCA LONDON is an Assistant Professor in the Sociology Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research focuses on understanding the challenges faced by disadvantaged children and youth and the ways that communities and community organizations support young people to be healthy and successful. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods, she has conducted research in multiple fields, including: K-12 and post-secondary education, health and wellness, afterschool programs, welfare reform, the digital divide and children's living arrangements. Her research has been published in numerous journals, edited volumes, and policy briefs as well as presented at professional conferences, in community forums and in legislative testimony.

MONIKA SANCHEZ is a former policy analyst at the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education primarily working with the Center’s integrated longitudinal data system. She has worked mostly in the areas of student attendance, early childhood, and student health and wellness. Ms. Sanchez co-authored the recent 2016 publication, “A School-University Research Partnership to Identify Disengaged Students: A Descriptive Case Analysis of School Climate,” in Teachers College Record.

SEBASTIAN CASTRECHINI is Community Schools Research Analyst at San Francisco Unified School District and formerly a policy analyst at the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education. He has worked as a teacher and assistant principal and has extensive experience in the realm of full-service community schools implementation and research. He has conducted community-engaged research on topics including full-service community schools, high school to postsecondary transitions, court-dependent youth, and youth fitness and play.