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Every Day Matters

Chronic absence is a national crisis. When schools, communities and families work together, students succeed. Find tips on this page to improve your child's attendance.

Chronic Absence

"Across the country, more than 8 million students are missing so many days of school that they are academically at risk. Chronic absence — missing 10 percent or more of school days due to absence for any reason—excused, unexcused absences and suspensions, can translate into third-graders unable to master reading, sixth-graders failing subjects and ninth-graders dropping out of high school."  — Attendance Works

Truancy vs. Chronic Absence


  • Counts only unexcused absences
  • Emphasizes compliance with school rules
  • Relies on legal and administrative solutions

Chronic Absence

  • Counts all absences: excused, unexcused, and suspensions
  • Emphasizes academic impact of missed days
  • Uses community-based positive strategies

Source: What’s the Difference Between Chronic Absence and Truancy?

Tips to Improve Your Child's Attendance

  • Set a regular bed time and morning routine.
  • Lay out clothes and backpacks the night before.
  • Find out what day school starts and make sure your child has the required immunization shots.
  • Introduce your child to her teachers and classmates before school starts to help them with transitions.
  • Don’t let your child stay home unless they are truly sick. Keep in mind complaints of a stomach ache or headache can be a sign of anxiety and not a reason to stay home.
  • If your child seems anxious about going to school, talk to teachers, school counselors, or other parents for advice on how to make her feel comfortable and excited about learning.
  • Develop back-up plans for getting to school if something comes up. Call on a family member, a neighbor, or another parent.
  • Volunteer at your child's school, and get involved.  
  • Avoid medical appointments and extended trips when school is in session.

Attendance Myths

  • Only unexcused absences are a problem
  • Attendance only matters in older grades
  • Missing school every so often does not affect learning

Related Videos

Attendance Works – A Community Imperative

Mission: Graduate – Every Day Matters

The Importance of Kindergarten Attendance