Chronic absenteeism is pervasive: as many as one in six students in the United States miss enough school to be considered chronically absent, according to the US Department of Education. The negative effects of absenteeism on a student’s education can be profound, and they often carry into adulthood.

The harmful impact of chronic absenteeism threatens all students, but the risks are not borne equally. Students of color, students who live in poverty, and students with chronic health conditions or disabilities all experience disproportionately high absence rates.

Examining the causes of absenteeism and the effects it has on school performance, and ultimately life outcomes, provides a deeper understanding of why school attendance is so important.

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