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Chronic Absenteeism in Adult Education

Chronic absenteeism is gaining national attention as we look at this impact on school success for students. Absenteeism is gaining attention of the U.S. Secretary of Education, John B. Kinng, Jr. He states,"Missing school leads to low academic achievement and triggers drop outs. Millions of young people are missing opportunities in postsecondary education, good careers and a chance to experience the American dream." If students struggle with participation in traditional public school, how can we expect these patterns to change in adult education? 

The most recent data is sobering. From the report: 

  • Geography — Chronic absenteeism is prevalent in all parts of the country. 
  • Race & Ethnicity — More than 22 percent of American Indian students were chronically absent in 2013-14, followed by Pacific Islanders, blacks, students of two or more races, Hispanics-Latinos, whites, and Asians.
  • School Level — High school students were absent the most—almost 20 percent—followed by middle school (12 percent) and elementary school students (10 percent).
  • Disability Status — More than 17 percent of students with disabilities were chronically absent compared to 12 percent of students without disabilities.
  • Gender — Roughly 13 percent of both males and females were chronically absent

Chronic absenteeism is different that stopping out /dropping out. Students are missing class each week.

How are we addressing chronic absenteeism in the adult education classroom?

What issues does does chronic absenteeism cause for the teaching / learning experience? 


Kathy_Tracey's picture
One hundred


This article, How to Tackle Student Absenteeism provides a bit of insight into what works for the traditional K-12 environment for increasing attendance, but I think there are some ideas we can modify and integrate into the classroom.

First, the author's research indicates that incentives actually decreases student attendance, while communication which includes the attendance records increases participation. However, this sentence stands out the most: it is cognitively difficult to keep accurate track of absences as they accumulate over time.

What does this mean for our students? What practices have you found that increase attendance?