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Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities
NCES 2010-015
July 2010

Indicator 16. Absences

Children who are frequently absent from school may experience academic difficulties and are less likely to complete school if no intervention takes place (DeSocio et al. 2007). Examining school absences by racial/ethnic group may reveal racial/ethnic differences in the percentages of students who are at risk academically.

In 2009, about 63 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander 8th-grade students reported zero absences from school in the preceding month, while 35 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native 8th-grade students reported no absences. Asians/Pacific Islanders had the lowest percentage of students who had missed 3 or more days of school (11 percent), while American Indians/Alaska Natives had the highest (28 percent). Higher percentages of Black (23 percent) and Hispanic students (22 percent) had missed 3 or more days than was the case for White students (19 percent).

Examining students' school attendance and their scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics assessment sheds light on the link between absences and achievement (see indicator 11.2 for more information on the NAEP mathematics assessment). Students with fewer absences were more likely to score at or above Basic on the NAEP mathematics assessment. For 8th-graders overall, 78 percent of students who had no absences in the past month scored at or above Basic, whereas 74 percent of those with one or two absences and 60 percent of those with three or more absences scored at or above Basic. This pattern held true for most racial/ethnic groups.21

View Table View Table 16
View Table View Figure 16

21 There was one exception to this pattern: 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 who scored at or above Basic.