Supporting Student Attendance and Engagement

Chronic absenteeism is typically defined as missing at least 10 percent of school days, or 18 days in a year, for any reason, excused or unexcused. As of the 2021-22 school year, over 14 million students nationwide were chronically absent, missing valuable instructional time, and posing serious implications for students’ overall academic success and wellbeing.

Chronic absence derives from multiple, often interconnected factors; however, research points to student disengagement, lack of access to student and family supports, and student and family health challenges as significant drivers. These challenges may present differently by school type—for example, high school-age students are more likely to cite competing demands such as staying home to be caregivers to younger siblings or a sick family member or working outside the home to financially support themselves or their families.

U.S Department of Education resources can support schools, districts, and states to promote regular school attendance and enhance family and student engagement as a focal point of support student achievement. This page provides information about Department grant programs and technical assistance resources to support regular student attendance and engagement.

Sustaining Efforts to Boost Student Attendance

Click here to download a quick reference resource that provides information on select federal education formula and discretionary funding and technical assistance that can support school districts to combat chronic absenteeism and boost everyday attendance.

Districts may use the following formula grant funds to promote student engagement and everyday attendance.​
Title I, Part A –  Title I, Part A funds may be used on evidence-based strategies to increase attendance and instructional time.
Title II, Part A –  Title II, Part A funds may be used by schools to implement evidence-based professional development programming, focused on increasing student engagement.
Title IV, Part A –  Title IV, Part A funds may be used to improve school conditions and create safe, positive, and healthy learning environments that support consistent student attendance.
Title IV, Part B –  Title IV, Part B (Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers) funds may be used to provide out-of-school time opportunities (such as enrichment programs before school, after school, and during school breaks) to enhance connections between students and their school, family, and community partners and encourage everyday attendance.
Title IV, Part E –  Title IV, Part E funds may be used to strengthen family engagement, which in turn promotes daily student attendance.
IDEA Part B –  IDEA Part B funds may be used to support schools to compensate for lost instructional time due to chronic absenteeism of children with disabilities.
Stronger Connections Grant program –  Stronger Connections Grant program, authorized under the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, provides funding to high-needs schools that may create safe, welcoming environments and foster regular school attendance.
School systems can apply for federal funding from a number of discretionary grant programs to promote student engagement and everyday attendance.
Full-Service Community Schools –  Full-Service Community Schools provide wraparound supports and can provide learning acceleration opportunities.
Promise Neighborhoods –  Promise Neighborhoods provide comprehensive cradle-to-career supports to students in low-income neighborhoods.
Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grant –  The Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grant advances literacy skills through evidence-based practices, activities, and interventions for high-need schools.
Innovative Approaches to Literacy Grant –  The Innovative Approaches to Literacy Grant promotes innovative literacy programs and ensures students have access to high-quality literacy opportunities and resources.
Education Innovation & Research Grant –  The Education Innovation and Research program provides funding to promote innovative programs that improve student achievement, including programs districts created with ESSER funds.

Technical Assistance Resources to Support Student Attendance and Engagement

Access free evidence-based resources and request support from the Department’s technical assistance centers.
Student Engagement and Attendance Center –  The Student Engagement and Attendance Center (SEAC) provides direct support to States and school districts in addressing chronic absenteeism, including resources on multi-tiered systems of support, understanding root causes, and strategies to address absenteeism and promote student engagement.
National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments –  The National Center on Safe and Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE) provides direct support to States and schools on family-school partnerships and protective student factors.
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Center –  The Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Center (PBIS) helps States and schools creating classroom, schoolwide, family, and other supports that help students thrive in school and at home.
Proactive Schoolwide Strategies for Supporting Attendance –  Proactive Schoolwide Strategies for Supporting Attendance explores strategies for messaging around attendance and create positive school climates.
Equity Discussion Guide –  The Equity Discussion Guide supports schools in ensuring attendance policies, data, and communications account for the needs of all families.
Youth Engagement Tool and Family Engagement Tool –  The Youth Engagement Tool and the Family Engagement Tool helps schools, States, and educators take meaningful action to strengthen relationships with youth and create opportunities for meaningful engagement with youth and their families.
Family Engagement to Support Student Engagement and Attendance Brief –  The Family Engagement to Support Student Engagement and Attendance Brief provides key strategies schools have taken to successfully engage families and increase student attendance.
National Partnership for Student Success –  The National Partnership for Student Success (NPSS) is a public private partnership led by the Department, AmeriCorps, and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University that helps schools support students, including by combatting chronic absenteeism.
Engage Every Student –  The Engage Every Student Initiative (EES) is a cross organization partnership that provides high-quality out-of-school time learning opportunities for every child who wants to participate.

Please note that the materials presented from Technical Assistance Centers and partners concerning resources available are being provided for your convenience as a potential resource for parents, students, schools, teachers, and other educators to use. They were not developed by the U.S. Department of Education, and we do not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of this information. Furthermore, the inclusion of any hyperlinks and the content presented is not intended to convey their relative importance, nor is it intended to endorse any views expressed or products or services offered. The Department does not control, direct, or encourage any particular curriculum or the information related to curriculum. The use of materials or information by a school or educator is strictly a State and local matter.

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