The Link Between School Attendance and Good Health

Published online today, January 30, 2019, and in the February 2019 issue of Pediatrics, " The Link Between School Attendance and Good Health" recommends that health care providers promote good school attendance in their offices as well as in the community, and the state and federal policy levels.
Chronic absenteeism -- defined as missing 10 percent of the school year for any reason -- results in students who are likely to lag behind academically and more likely to drop out. This puts them at risk for unhealthy behaviors by the time they reach their teens, and poor health as adults, the AAP says. 

The statement offers proven measures to improve student health and reduce chronic absenteeism for all students, such as increased hand washing and access to school nurses and counselors, and suggests how health care providers can avoid contributing to student absences. It includes practical recommendations for providers seeing children with moderate chronic absenteeism (missing 2 or 3 days of school per month) and for patients with severe chronic absenteeism (missing 4 or more days of school per month). 

Please share the AAP policy statement with health care providers working with children and encourage them to educate families and students about the importance of regular attendance. Attendance Works has developed a downloadable case statement for all health providers that explains what they can do to address chronic absenteeism in their practice and community. 

Attendance Works Website

Attendance Works is a national and state initiative that promotes awareness of the important role that school attendance plays in achieving academic success starting with school entry. Our goal is to ensure that every district in the country not only tracks chronic absence data beginning in kindergarten or ideally earlier, but also partners with families and community agencies to intervene when attendance is a problem for children or particular schools.

Our three objectives are:

  • Build public awareness and political will about the need to address chronic absence. This includes extensive media outreach as well as working with key national organizations to spread the word about why this issue matters and explore the role federal government can play. It also includes explaining the critical difference between chronic absence and truancy.

  • Foster state campaigns by developing coalitions to advance state and local policies that promote tracking attendance for individual students and reporting on chronic absence to ensure schools, especially if they are low-performing, will intervene to improve student attendance.

  • Encourage local practice by providing technical assistance and tools to help communities, schools and school districts monitor and work together to address chronic absence. This includes creating peer learning networks and tapping skills and assets available from state and national organizations.


Attendance Awareness Parent Handouts


Last Modified on January 31, 2019