What the Research Says about Attendance
1. Research on truancy and absenteeism states that students with better attendance score
higher on achievement tests than their more frequently absent peers (Lamdin, 1998).
2. School dropout is best conceptualized as a gradual disengagement from school and learning
Jimerson, S., Reschly, A., & Hess, R. (2008). Best practices in increasing the likelihood of HS
completion. North East Florida Education Consortium, 67(4).
3. Kids do not drop out overnight; rather, it is a long-term process. Some believe warning signs
surface as early as first grade (Rumberger, 2001). There are three major variables that
influence a student’s decision to drop out: 1) academic failure; 2) social and economic issues;
and 3) lack of adult guidance (FCPS, 2011).
Fairfax County Public Schools. (2011). Bringing the dropout challenge into focus. Fairfax, VA:
Department of Professional Learning and Accountability.
Rumberger, Russell. (2001). Why students drop out of school and what can be done. University
of California, Santa Barbara.
4. Source: Bridgeland, as cited by FCPS Graduation Task Force, 2011
5. Source: Weber, K. and Morrison, S. (2012). Disproportionate Contact for African American and
Latino Youth: The Story Behind the Numbers and the Path to Action. Center for the Study of Social
Policy, Fairfax County, VA. Retrieved from http://www.cssp.org/publications/child-welfare/institutional-
6. Source: Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago. Freshman Year: The
Make-It or Break-It Year
-Nearly 90% of freshmen who miss less than a week of school per school per semester graduate,
regardless of their 8th
grade test scores.
-Freshmen who miss more than two weeks of school flunk, on average, at least two classes-no matter
whether they arrive at high school with top test scores or below-average scores. In fact, freshmen
who arrive with high test scores but miss two weeks of school per semester are more likely to fail a
course than freshmen with low test scores who miss just one week.
7. According to the National High School Center (2007), the key indicators that researchers have
identified as indicative of who is most likely to drop out are:
-poor grades in core subjects,
-failure to be promoted to the next grade, and
-disengagement in the classroom, including behavioral problems.
Most future dropouts can be identified as early as sixth grade. One key study indicated that more than
half of sixth graders with the following 3 criteria eventually left school:
1. attend school less than 80% of time
2. receive a low final grade from teachers in conduct
3. fail either math or English
(Balfanz & Herzog, 2005)
-Schools should track 9th
graders who miss 10 days or more of school in 1st
30 days (Neild & Balfanz,
2006). The first month of school provides important info about who is in risk of dropping out. Just one
to two weeks of absence per semester was found to be associated with a substantially reduced
probability of graduating (Allensworth and Easton, 2007).