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Chronic absenteeism has devastating effects on students

Chronic absenteeism is one of the most important and underdiscussed issues in education. However, it can have a devastating impact on a child’s future.

States typically define chronic absenteeism as missing 18 days of school. According to the United States Department of Education, nearly 8 million students are chronically absent from schools each year in the United States.

In general, chronic absenteeism affects three important aspects of a child’s education:

  1. Reading proficiency: School absences at an early age can have the most profound effect on a student’s education. Research shows chronic absenteeism in kindergarten and first grade correlates to a greater chance of not reading proficiently in third grade. Third grade reading proficiency can have a serious impact on a student’s future academic success.
  2. Test scores: Numerous studies have found that chronic absenteeism in a student’s early years correlates to lower scores in reading and math. For instance, one report found students who are absent for 14 days out of the school year are likely to score around 4 to 7 points lower on standardized tests than their peers.
  3. Graduation rates: Chronic absences can be a major predictor of graduation rates. Students who miss a significant number of school days are likely to fall behind. If they cannot catch up, they may be held back a year or required to repeat certain courses. This can be discouraging and embarrassing for a student who may lose the motivation and resources to succeed academically. This can lead to higher drop-out rates.

Not only can chronic absences affect the rest of a child’s life, but they can have a legal impact as well. Florida law considers habitual truancy as students who have 15 or more unexcused absences within 90 days. It can be complicated determining whether these days were excused or unexcused. It is important to take your child’s absences seriously, as you or your child could face legal consequences as a result.

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