It all adds up to “a paradigm shift,” says Hedy Chang who directs Attendance Works, a national and state level initiative that treats attendance as a key lever to student success. It was Chang’s research in the mid-2000s that helped lay the groundwork for the current policy focus on chronic absenteeism. She found that missing more than 10% of school days in a year was an “early warning signal” for students earning low grades and eventually dropping out, and that it affected low-income students disproportionately.
The emerging questions for educators and parents are: What is the best way to measure whether students are participating in learning? And who will be held responsible for a student who doesn’t participate? The student? Their caregiver? The school?