In celebration of Attendance Awareness Month, the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF) released a new report today on chronic absence policies and practices in North Carolina. The report shares the most recent data available on chronic absence in the early grades, and assesses where North Carolina is on policies, practices and infrastructure proven to support school attendance.
The report includes:
According to an Attendance Works report, absenteeism rates among kindergartners, particularly low-income and minority children, are nearly as high as those among high school freshmen. An estimated 1 in 10 kindergartners misses at least 18 days of school, or nearly a month of class, per year. Chronic absence in kindergarten can leave third-graders unable to read proficiently, sixth-graders struggling with coursework, and high school students off track for graduation. These absences are especially problematic among students living in poverty who are most likely to have poor attendance over multiple years and least likely to have the resources to make up for the lost time in the classroom. The missed days in a student’s earliest years are a significant precursor to reduced levels of school achievement and increased risk of dropping out of school.
Chronic absence was chosen as a priority for action by the stakeholders of the NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Initiative, which is creating partnerships among the state’s early learning and education, public agency, policy, philanthropic and business leaders to define a common vision, shared measures of success and coordinated strategies that support children’s optimal development beginning at birth.
The NCECF promotes understanding, spearheads collaboration, and advances policies to ensure each North Carolina child is on track for lifelong success by the end of third grade.