By now, the link between chronic absenteeism and academic outcomes is clear. In study after study, researchers have shown that when students miss school, they are more likely to fall behind academically or even drop out. And while the research has been critical to identifying the link between academics and chronic absenteeism, the story doesn’t end there.

Educators on the frontlines are seeing all other kinds of other ways chronic absenteeism is hurting our school environments, beyond academics. Absenteeism is having cascading, negative effects, and in our own customer community Homeroom, some of the influential educators we work with outlined these growing problems.

Here are the cascading effects of chronic absenteeism that educators are finding most concerning:

  1. When chronically absent students do come back to school, if the supports aren’t in place, they won’t ever be able to escape the absenteeism cycle.
  2. When chronically absent students don’t feel like they belong, there’s no incentive for them to return for good.
  3. Chronic absenteeism negatively impacts the learning environment for the kids who are coming to class every day.
  4. Chronic absenteeism may be masking other, deeper problems.

No doubt these concerns are unique to the educators who have shared them. Chronic absenteeism is a deeply complex issue, but for educators looking to make a difference, this feedback does suggest some places they can start:

  • Invest in creating stronger student/adult relationships. Positive relationships can help students feel they belong, and they can help keep students in school when they return.
  • Put a clear support system in place for when students do return.
  • Don’t just think about attendance – actually #bethechange. Watch for the warning signs. Look at the revealing student behavior patterns. Establish a proactive approach to combating absenteeism for the both the social/emotional – and academic – good of all students, not just the absent.

Looking for help reducing chronic absenteeism in your school(s)?

Grab a copy of Curbing Chronic Absenteeism: Six Real Actions Local Leaders Can Take To Make A Big Difference. This insightful free guide, filled with more actionable strategies from former educators, can help reveal why chronic absenteeism is happening and show both district and school leaders how to successfully intervene to improve outcomes.