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Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities
NCES 2007-039
September 2007

Indicator 15: Absence

Children who are frequently absent from school participate in fewer academic and social opportunities than children who attend school regularly. Research has suggested a link between school attendance and student achievement (Lamdin 1996; Roby 2004). Therefore, examining school absences by racial/ethnic group may reveal racial/ethnic differences in the proportions of students who are at risk academically.

In 2005, a higher percentage of Asian/Pacific Islander 8th-grade students (62 percent) than students of all other races/ethnicities shown had no school absences in the preceding month. American Indians/Alaska Natives had a lower percentage of 8th-graders with no absences (34 percent) than did White (44 percent), Black (44 percent), Hispanic (42 percent), and Asian/Pacific Islander students. Asians/Pacific Islanders had the lowest percentage of students who had missed 3 or more days of school (12 percent), while American Indians/Alaska Natives had the highest (30 percent). Higher percentages of Black (25 percent) and Hispanic students (24 percent) had missed 3 or more days than White students (20 percent).

Examining school attendance by student achievement on the NAEP mathematics assessment sheds light on the link between absences and achievement (see indicator 10 for more information on the NAEP mathematics assessment). The percentage of students who were at or above Basic on the NAEP mathematics assessment was higher for those students with fewer absences. For 8th-graders overall, 75 percent who had no absences in the past month scored at or above Basic, compared to 71 percent with one or two absences, and 56 percent with three or more absences. This pattern holds true for each racial/ethnic group, with the exception of American Indian/Alaska Native students. The percentage of American Indian/Alaska Native students with no absences who scored at or above Basic was not measurably different from the percentage with one or two absences.25

View Table View Table 15
View Table View Figure 15


25 The inability to detect a difference between these two groups of students may be due to the small sample size and large standard errors.