Arizona Absences Add Up
A new report released today by Attendance Works shows the strong correlation between student performance and chronic absenteeism. The state-by-state review of national testing data shows that students who miss more school than their peers consistently score lower on standardized tests, a result that holds true at every age, in every subject and in every state and city tested. The data for this report was collected as part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) biennial testing. In addition to measuring math and literacy skills, the test asks students to answer several non academic questions including how many days of school they’ve missed in the month before the exam is administered. The 2013 NAEP test results were released earlier this year in a report commonly referred to as the “Nation’s Report Card”. It showed that only 27% of Arizona’s fourth graders are reading at or above the expected level.
Arizona had higher than average rates of absenteeism for 3 or more days in a month in both 4th and 8th grade. Students with high absenteeism nationwide had significantly weaker test scores regardless of demographics or socioeconomic status. This impacts children at all levels from fourth grade reading proficiency scores, to high school drop-out rates.
The report recommends that states create common definitions and measures and use standardized tracking and reporting so that teachers and school districts can address chronic absenteeism. It recommends that schools provide early reading intervention and positive supports for chronically absent students, starting in Kindergarten. Research shows that when absences are reduced, students can make academic gains.
To see the full report, including the Arizona data click here.