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Chronic Absence

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Attendance in school matters because kids need to be in school to learn. Children who miss 10 percent or more of the days they should be in school—for any reason—are considered chronically absent. Children who are chronically absent from school are at risk of falling behind, which can hurt their chances of success in school and in careers they pursue as adults.

Negative effects of chronic absence begin as early as preschool and grow over time as absences accumulate. Chronically absent students are less likely to be proficient in reading by the end of third grade. Chronic absence is particularly acute among students from low-income families, potentially creating lifetime gaps in achievement and opportunity. Students with significant health needs also may suffer the effects of chronic absence.

In Iowa, members of a state advisory council in 2016 approved recommendations to help school districts and communities improve the attendance of chronically absent students. An average of 8.3 percent of Iowa public school students were chronically absent in the 2015–2016 school year. That compares to 14 percent nationally.

Schools and communities can combat chronic absence by joining forces to use data to support students who are at risk for chronic absence.

Current Data


Best Practices in Reducing Chronic Absence – Profiles of four Iowa school districts working to encourage attendance.

Iowa Campaign for Grade Level Reading – Iowa communities working to align school and community partners in the effort to ensure students read proficiently by the end of third grade. One main focus is school attendance.  

Attendance Works – A national resource for data tools, research, family and community involvement, policy, and communication.


Iowa Highlights in the Media - A compilation of news articles about Iowa schools.

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on September 30, 2022 at 2:05pm.