Chronic Absence


Good attendance is essential to student achievement!

Research shows that absences add up and that good attendance is essential to student achievement and graduation.  Whereas, chronic absence and truancy can be lead to school drop-out, academic failure and juvenile delinquency. Chronic absence is defined as missing 10 percent or more of school for any reason including excused, unexcused and disciplinary absences.  It is a proven predictor of academic failure and dropout rates.  Absences occur due to many factors, e.g., health, unstable housing, lack of transportation, student disengagement from school, and safety/school climate.  By removing barriers to attendance, districts, schools and community partners can improve attendance.

Improving and sustaining good attendance requires the active engagement of district and school-based leaders and administrators along with a clear articulation of roles and responsibilities.  Successful strategies include forming district and school attendance teams, analyzing data, identifying trends and factors contributing to chronic absence, and implementing a multi-tiered approach to reducing chronic absence. Find strategies, research, toolkits and more at Attendance Works, a national leader in reducing chronic absence.

Learn more:

Connecticut's Reducing Chronic Absence in Connecticut Schools: A Prevention and Intervention Guide for Schools and Districts provides additional support for schools and districts including: definitions, examples of  root causes, local intervention models; strategies for districts and schools as well as state and national resources. 

NOTE:  As of July 1, 2017, Public Act 17-14, Section 1(a)(2), removes any in-school suspension of a half day or more from the calculations of students absences done by local and regional boards of education, as per Circular Letter: C-1, Series 2017-2018.  Students attending in-school suspension for more than one-half of the school day should no longer be marked as not in attendance or absent from school that day.

Chronic Absence in Connecticut

In Connecticut, 50,376 students were chronically absent during the 2015-16 school year. This is nearly 10 percent of all students in Connecticut public schools, and the rates are significantly higher in many communities. Being chronically absent has a significant impact on a student’s ability to read at grade level, perform academically, and graduate on time.

The rate of chronically absent students in Connecticut dropped to 9.6 percent in 2015-16, down from 10.6 percent the year before and down from a high of 11.5 percent in 2012-13.  The decline in Connecticut's chronic absenteeism rate means that over 10,000 more students are attending school on a daily basis than four years ago.  This is a sign that collaborative efforts to keeps students across Connecticut in school and engaged are having a positive impact.  Read more in the press release.  Download updated chronic absenteeism trend data on the Connecticut State Department of Education's data portal, EdSight.

In 2016-17, the rate of chronically absent students in Connecticut increased slightly to 9.9 percent, up from 9.6 percent in 2015-16.  Two factors to consider include: 1) change in definition of an absence to include an in-school suspension of more than half of the school day (repealed as of 7/1/17) and 2) diligent attention by districts and schools to accuracy in data reporting of attendance.

Chronic Absence vs. Truancy

Chronic absence and truancy are not interchangeable terms. They describe different aspects of the absence problem and require different approaches. Truancy is a term that generally refers to unexcused absences. Chronic absence, on the other hand, incorporates all absences: excused, unexcused absences, and suspensions and expulsions served.

A referral form and guidance document for referral to a Youth Service Bureau has been developed to assist local communities in the establishment of community-based systems of supports and systems for students who are truant.  Students who are truant or defiant of school rules may no longer be referred to the juvenile court. Guidance and resources are provided on the CSDE Truancy webpage.

Chronic Absence and Accountability

Chronic absence is one of 12 indicators in Connecticut's School and District Accountability.  The new system provides an on-line tool for downloaded school and district accountability reports as well as a guidance document that provides a description, rationale and resources for each of the indicators, including chronic absence.