In 2005, Asian/Pacific Islander students in grades four and eight were the least likely to have missed three or more days of school. American Indian students were most likely to have missed three or more days of school and Hispanic, non-Hispanic black, and nonHispanic white students fell in the middle. (See Figure 1)
School attendance is a critical factor for school performance among youth. Studies show that higher attendance is related to higher achievement for students of all backgrounds.
Students who attend school regularly score higher on achievement tests than their peers who are frequently absent.
Many factors can lead to student absenteeism. Family health or financial concerns, poor school climate, drug and alcohol use, transportation problems and differing community attitudes towards education are all conditions that can affect whether or not a child is attending school.
Chronic truancy (regular unexcused absence), in particular, is a predictor of undesirable outcomes in adolescence, including academic failure, school drop out, substance abuse, and gang and criminal activity.
In one study, truant eighth graders were four and a half times more likely to smoke marijuana than their peers.
As adults, truant youth are more likely than those who regularly attend school to have poor physical health and mental health, lower lifetime earnings, greater reliance on welfare, children with behavioral problems, and a greater likelihood of being incarcerated.
Most states have compulsory attendance laws,
with truancy as a status offence (an act that is illegal due to the offender’s age).
From 1994 to 2005, there was no significant change in the percentage of fourth grade students who reported that they were absent from school for 3 or more days in the last month (from 18 percent in 1994 to 19 percent in 2005). However, among eighth grade