Chronic Absenteeism

12.6% of County Students were Chronically Absent in 2017/18

The costs and impacts of chronic absenteeism are significant, with both short- and long-term implications for the student as well as for the family, school, and community. 1 Research suggests that chronic school absenteeism at the elementary school level reduces math and reading achievement, educational engagement, four-year graduation rates or any high school completion, and social engagement for the absent child as well as for other children in the classroom. 2 Research aimed at discovering the causes of chronic absenteeism point to poor physical, mental and oral health, ACEs (adverse childhood experiences), and poor school climate. 3

Chronic Absenteeism

Chronic Absenteeism by Socioeconomic Status

San Bernardino and California, 2016/17 and 2017/18
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Note: Socioeconomically disadvantaged includes students eligible for free or reduced-price school meals, foster youth, homeless students, migrant students, and students for whom neither parent is a high school graduate.

Source: California Department of Education, DataQuest.

How is San Bernardino County Doing?

With only two years of data, an absenteeism trend has not yet emerged:

  • In 2017/18, 12.6% of all students were chronically absent, which is higher than the statewide rate of 11.1%.
  • In 2016/17, the first year of data collection, the San Bernardino County chronic absenteeism rate of 12.1%, compared to the state rate of 10.8%.
  • The rate of chronic absenteeism among students who are socioeconomically disadvantaged is more than twice that of students who are not socioeconomically disadvantaged (14.6% vs. 6.5%).
  • The chronic absenteeism rate ranges widely by district, from a low of 0% to a high of 35%.

Chronic Absenteeism Defined

In California, chronic absenteeism is defined as being absent for 10% or more of the number of days a student is enrolled in school. For students enrolled for a full school year, this equates to 18 out of California’s state-mandated 180 days in a full school year.

Percentage of Chronically Absent Students by School District

San Bernardino County, 2017/18
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1Maynard, B. R., McCrea, K. T., Pigott, T. D., & Kelly, M. S. (2012). Indicated Truancy Interventions: Effects on School Attendance Among Chronic Truant Students. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 10. 2Gottfried, M. A. (2019). Chronic Absenteeism in the Classroom Context: Effects on Achievement. Urban Education, 54(1), 3-34. Smerillo, N. E., Reynolds, A. J., Temple, J. A., & Ou, S. R. (2018). Chronic Absence, Eighth-grade Achievement, and High School Attainment in the Chicago Longitudinal Study. Journal of School Psychology, 67, 163-178. Gottfried, M. A. (2014). Chronic Absenteeism and its Effects on Students’ Academic and Socioemotional Outcomes. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk (JESPAR), 19(2), 53-75. Cook, P. J., Dodge, K. A., Gifford, E. J., & Shulting, A. B. (2017). A New Program to Prevent Primary School Absenteeism: Results of a Pilot Study in Five Schools. Children and Youth Services Review, 82, 262-270. 3Stempel, H., Cox-Martin, M., Bronsert, M., Dickinson, L. M., & Allison, M. A. (2017). Chronic School Absenteeism and the Role of Adverse Childhood Experiences. Academic Pediatrics, 17(8), 837-843. Van Eck, K., Johnson, S. R., Bettencourt, A., & Johnson, S. L. (2017). How School Climate Relates to Chronic Absence: A Multi-Level Latent Profile Analysis. Journal of School Psychology, 61, 89-102. Pourat N., & Nicholson G. (2009). Affordability of Needed Dental Care is Linked to Frequent School Absences (pre-publication manuscript), UCLA Center for Health Policy Research