Working paper

Looking back: how prior-year attendance impacts starting achievement


By: Shannon Bi, Emily Wolk


Much of the current chronic absenteeism research has demonstrated the impact of chronic absences on end-of-year achievement; however, few studies have focused on how the impact of absences carry from one year to the next. Using data from a large, urban district, this research uses interim assessment test results to measure the impact of prior year attendance on starting achievement the following year. Our results show the impact prior-year absences have are significant and persistent. Students with moderate to chronic absenteeism start the following year significantly behind their peers academically. These results suggest absences become “chronic” before students reach commonly accepted definitions of chronic absenteeism, stressing the need for sustained and early interventions for students with emerging or consistent attendance problems.

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