By controlling for differences in family environments, a new study further bolsters the belief that frequent absences from school hinder academic achievement.
Michael A. Gottfried, an associate policy researcher at the RAND Corp., in Santa Monica, Calif., found that students who missed school performed worse on reading and math tests than siblings raised in the same household who attended school more frequently. That achievement lag persists, too—students who start off on the wrong foot will continue to annually perform worse than siblings throughout elementary school.
The paper, which was published in the February edition of the American Journal of Education, notes that negative effects may be ameliorated with summer sessions or weekend classes, but also suggests states require schools to submit attendance rates when reporting on adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind Act. The U.S. Department of Education has said that information is only optional.
A version of this article appeared in the May 25, 2011 edition of Education Week as Absenteeism