Follow us:

Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Author archives

You are currently viewing all posts written by .

November 20, 2013 at 5:25 PM

Guest: Communities should work together to keep kids in class

Robert Balfanz

Robert Balfanz


Nationwide, 5 million to 7.5 million students are chronically absent each year. In Seattle, this amounts to missing at least 18 days — or about a month’s worth of school.

All too often, no one notices or even cares if these kids don’t show up.

Our research at Johns Hopkins University shows that chronic absence is a strong predictor of who will eventually drop out of school. And the problem starts early. One study estimated that one in 10 of the nation’s kindergarten and first-grade students were chronically absent.

These early absences can leave children lagging in basic reading and math skills and can establish an entrenched pattern of chronic absenteeism as students move into middle and high school. Chronically absent students also are more likely to wind up in the juvenile justice system.

The good news is that mayors, school districts and communities have a relatively low-cost way to raise academic achievement, increase graduation rates, reduce juvenile justice costs and build better pathways out of poverty: that is, to work together to get their students to attend school every day.


Comments | More in Guest opinion | Topics: absenteeism, attendance, Bob Balfanz