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Chronic Absenteeism

Variable Definitions:
Chronically Absent Students: The percentage of students who are absent on 10% or more of the school days they are enrolled in for a school year

Methodology Note: 

The original data comes at the school level. Our team geocoded the school locations to generate X/Y coordinates, then spatial joined each point to 2020 Census Tracts.

California Department of Education (CDE) Ed-Data/Data Quest

Years Available:
2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, 2023

*The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in statewide physical school closures in February/March 2020 followed by the widespread implementation of distance learning during the 2020–21 academic year. The California Department of Education (CDE) recommends caution when comparing discipline data across academic years. For this dataset, data for 2020 is unavailable due to school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why are these variables important to measure?

Chronically Absent Students
The California Education Code defines a “chronic absentee” as a student who is absent on 10 percent or more of the school days that they are enrolled in for a school year. 

Chronic absenteeism is typically not just a measure of students skipping school. Any number of reasons could cause a student to be chronically absent including housing insecurity, unreliable transportation, and lack of access to health care. Data analysis from the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) shows that chronic absence is associated with lower academic performance, even after controlling for ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status. The correlation was especially strong for Latina/o children, who scored significantly lower on reading proficiency tests. Based on the impact of attendance on educational outcomes , the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires every state to share data on chronic absentees. 

Attendance Works. (2018). “Chronic Absence.” Link

Chang, H. N., & Romero, M. (2008). Present, Engaged, and Accounted for: The Critical Importance of Addressing Chronic Absence in the Early Grades. Report. National Center for Children in Poverty. Link.

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