How Wellbeing Platforms Help Schools Address Chronic Absenteeism

February 22, 2024

Students are increasingly absent from school, and educators are worried about the impact on learning outcomes.

EAB’s 2023 Voice of the Superintendent Survey found that 76% of superintendents felt moderate or major concern about absenteeism in the 2022-23 school year.

Their concerns are understandable, considering that chronic absence affected 14.7 million students during the 2021-22 school year — in other words, nearly one-third of students missed 10% or more of school days.

What is contributing to high rates of chronic absence?

Chronic absenteeism rates have not shown signs of returning to pre-pandemic levels, even after schools returned to in-person learning. 

EAB has identified the following high risk factors for chronic absence:

  • Physical illness
  • Lack of transport
  • Housing mobility
  • Threat to safety
  • Loneliness, isolation
  • Mental illness
  • Academic struggle
  • Distrust in schools

Data shows that although the current spike in chronic absenteeism rates affects students of all backgrounds and ethnicities, it particularly impacts low-income students — who are more likely than their peers to encounter the above risk factors. 

For students of low socioeconomic status, limited access to reliable transportation, secure housing, or support from a trusted parent or guardian are major contributors towards increased absenteeism.

The increased rate of chronic absence may also stem from parents’ changing feelings around keeping their children home. Post-pandemic, many parents have lowered their threshold for allowing their children to miss school. A California School Attendance Research Project found that parents often see the benefits of absence as outweighing the benefits of attendance.

It’s easy to see how the pandemic may have normalized the concept of staying home from school, making it difficult for parents to accurately gauge the impact on their children of being consistently absent from school. This presents an opportunity for schools to improve education and engagement efforts to help parents understand how different factors play a role in their students’ wellbeing.

See what's impacting student wellbeing at your school

Get a no-cost 30-day Student Wellbeing Analysis to gauge wellbeing levels in your school and identify students who need additional support.

Get a free Student Wellbeing Analysis

The impact of chronic absenteeism

While it may be hard to see in the moment, the impact of missing school is very real. For students ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade, just one day of missed school can equal 2.5 days of lost math learning and 1.5 days of lost language and literacy learning. 

Chronic absenteeism also affects a student’s social-emotional skills. Children who are frequently absent from school not only demonstrate lower interpersonal skills; they are more likely to feel school-related stress and less likely to feel a sense of belonging at school.

Perhaps more surprising are the effects on students who do come to class. Research shows that when chronic absence reaches high levels, the educational experience of all students is affected — not just those who are frequently absent — connecting to a decline in overall student achievement.

This is concerning when you consider that in 2021-22, 66% of enrolled students attended a school defined as having high or extreme levels of chronic absence (compared to only 25% before the pandemic).

How wellbeing platforms can help schools address chronic absenteeism

Improving school attendance is crucial to wellbeing and learning outcomes, not just for the students who miss school, but for the entire school community.

To address chronic absenteeism, Attendance Works suggests that districts move forward with a system-wide approach, encompassing strategies for:

  • Family engagement
  • School connectedness
  • Community schools
  • Expanded access to health services

In cultivating both family engagement and school connectedness, wellbeing platforms can be a powerful tool for school districts. 

Gratitude and school culture

A wellbeing platform like Linewize Pulse helps amplify student voices, giving them an easy and safe way to check in on how they’re feeling and reach out for help when they need it. Pulse even encourages gratitude practices with unique “shoutout” features designed to help schools build a more positive culture, bring students and staff together and strengthen the connection between students and their schools.  Improving school-wide culture has a host of benefits, including being directly linked to better attendance.

Student wellbeing data and insights

Wellbeing tools not only uplift individual students, but also empower school leaders to support the entire student body by identifying wellbeing trends across grade levels. With whole-school insights, school administrators can make data-driven decisions to foster a school culture of connection and support. 

School leaders and mental health professionals can keep an eye on fluctuating wellbeing trends and reach out to those students who indicate they are struggling either at school or at home. 

Wellbeing tools can also act as a great starting point to connect with families. Considering that many parents simply aren’t aware of what wellbeing support is available at their schools, it is important for schools to involve parents and guardians in helping students thrive at school, at home and everywhere in between. 

This could mean offering education and resources aimed at parents, using apps to communicate in families’ native languages or even making home visits to families in need of extra support.

As EAB states, it will take a combined effort of students, educators and parents to address chronic absenteeism. Innovative strategies, including wellbeing tools, can help schools support all three of these groups to cultivate safe and healthy learning environments and build a sense of community at school that supports positive attendance.

Get your free Student Wellbeing Analysis

Try Linewize Pulse free for 30 days, and receive a detailed report with vital insights to identify students who need help and gauge wellbeing across class groups or grade levels.

Get a free Student Wellbeing Analysis

Topics: EdTech, Mental Health, Digital Wellness

Would you like some more information? Or a demo?
Get in touch
Subscribe to our newsletter

Recent posts

How Wellbeing Platforms Help Schools Address Chronic Absenteeism

Students are increasingly absent from school, and educators are worried about the impact on learning outcomes.

4 Key Findings for Schools from Qustodio’s 2023 Annual Report

After listening to what 400,000 parents had to say about their children’s digital safety and wellbeing, one thing is clear: they are ready ...

Bipartisan Bill to Study the Effects of Cell Phones in Classrooms

Should cell phones be banned in classrooms?

Navigating Harmful Content Online

A guide to managing children's exposure to distressing content online