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Study Links Absenteeism and NAEP Scores

"Absences Add Up"

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Students with poor attendance in the month before taking the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress scored significantly lower on the test than their peers who had no absences in that time frame, a new analysis by Attendance Works finds.

The study, released last week, defines poor attendance as missing three or more days in that period, regardless of whether the absences were excused or unexcused. Students self-report a variety of indicators, including absences, when they take the test.

National averages on the 4th and 8th grade mathematics and reading tests were between 12 and 18 test-score points lower for students with poor attendance than for those who hadn't missed school in the reporting period, the analysis found. (That's on a scale of 500.)

4th Grade NAEP Results

The more days of school that students missed in the month before taking the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the lower they tended to score on the test in both reading and mathematics, according to a new report.

Because states define and measure chronic absenteeism differently, the analysis gives researchers a rare opportunity to track and compare results nationwide, the report says. It also ranks states by student absenteeism rates. At the 4th grade level, Montana and New Mexico had among the worst absenteeism rates, with a quarter or more of students reporting having missed three or more days prior to the assessment.

Attendance Works, a group that promotes policies designed to improve school attendance, estimates that between 5 million and 7.5 million U.S. students miss nearly a month of school each year. Poor attendance affects achievement, graduation rates, and social-emotional factors like grit and perseverance, research shows.

Vol. 34, Issue 03, Page 5

Published in Print: September 10, 2014, as Study Links Absenteeism and NAEP Scores
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