California Definition of Chronic Absentee
A “chronic absentee” has been defined in California Education Code (EC) Section 60901(c)(1) as “a pupil who is absent on 10 percent or more of the school days in the school year when the total number of days a pupil is absent is divided by the total number of days the pupil is enrolled and school was actually taught in the regular day schools of the district, exclusive of Saturdays and Sundays.”
California Definition of Chronic Absenteeism Rate
The “chronic absenteeism rate” has been defined in California Code of Regulations Title 5, Section 157497.5 appendix:
(a) “Chronic absenteeism rate” shall be calculated as follows:
(1) The number of pupils with a primary, secondary, or short-term enrollment during the academic year (July 1 – June 30) who are chronically absent where “chronic absentee” means a pupil who is absent 10 percent or more of the school days in the school year when the total number of days a pupil is absent is divided by the total number of days the pupil is enrolled and school was actually taught in the total number of days the pupil is enrolled and school was actually taught in the regular day schools of the district, exclusive of Saturdays and Sundays.
(2) The unduplicated count of pupils with a primary, secondary, or short-term enrollment during the academic year (July 1 – June 30).
(3) Divide (1) by (2).
The above definition is used in California for Local Control and Accountability Plans and differs from the chronic absenteeism rate definition used in accordance with the data collection conducted pursuant to section 203(c)(1) of the Department of Education Organization Act (20 U.S.C. 3413(c)(1)) for Title I schools. The federal definition for chronic absenteeism counts students who have missed 15 days of school for any reason during one school year rather than students who have been absent 10 percent or more of the school days.
It is important to know the facts about chronic absenteeism in order to effectively address and eliminate it. Everyone should understand what chronic absenteeism is, whom it affects, and why we must work in a deeply coordinated and collaborative fashion to support students who are, or are at risk of becoming, chronically absent from school. 2 When engaging with someone on this issue, we suggest sharing the following important statistics about chronic absenteeism in the United States.
- Is a primary cause of lower academic achievement, even when the absences are “excused” or understandable.
- Is a powerful predictor of those students who may eventually drop out of school. A study of public school students in Utah found that a student who is chronically absent in any year between the eighth and twelfth grades is over seven times more likely to drop out of school than a student who was not chronically absent.
- Affects an estimated five to seven and a half million students each year.
- Can even affect students in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade, who are then much less likely to read at grade level by the end of third grade.
- Is caused by a variety of issues, including chronic health conditions, housing instability, involvement with the juvenile justice system, and unsafe conditions in school, among many others.
- Is particularly prevalent among students who are low-income, students of color, students with disabilities, students who are highly mobile, and/or juvenile justice-involved youth—in other words, those who already tend to face significant challenges and for whom school is particularly beneficial.
- Is particularly prevalent among those students who are homeless or reside in public housing.
- May lead to substance abuse. When students are skipping school, many of them become engaged in risky behavior such as substance abuse and delinquency.
- Affects other students, too. Not only are frequent absences harmful to the absentee, but they also have a negative effect on the achievement of other students in the classroom.
- Can negatively influence future adult health outcomes. Indeed, the mortality rate of high school dropouts is over two times greater than that for adults with some college education.
- Can increase likelihood of involvement with the criminal justice system.
- Is not measured by most states or school districts in this country, which leaves many educators and communities without information they need to identify students who could use additional support to maintain regular attendance.