Attendance Works

Attendance Works

Attendance Works is committed to advancing student success and to helping close equity gaps by reducing chronic absence from school.

Leveling the Inequitable Playing Field of Education

Attendance Works

Attendance Works began in 2006 when Ralph Smith, the then Sr. Vice President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, asked Hedy Nai-Lin Chang to examine whether missing too much school in the early grades was one of the reasons so few low-income children were reading proficiently by the end of third grade. This research found that chronically absent students—those who miss 10 percent of school in a single academic year—have poorer academic outcomes than students who attend school regularly and consistently. The study also revealed that one in 10 kindergarten and first grade students nationwide miss nearly a month of school each year.

By 2010, Ms. Chang realized there was a need to call national attention to this largely invisible but critical issue. With initial funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Ms. Chang established Attendance Works as a national initiative and coined the term "chronic absence" to differentiate it from truancy and to account for all absences, including excused and unexcused absences as well as days missed due to suspension. With the problem defined and named, Attendance Works began galvanizing local communities, school districts, teachers, and policymakers to collect and analyze attendance data. The organization then engaged these stakeholders to use this information to forge partnerships with families, civic organizations, and public agencies so they could collaboratively unpack and address common barriers to getting to school as well as nurture a community-wide culture of daily attendance in schools.

Attendance Works now offers support to Kindergarten-12 schools, and have expanded to address chronic absence starting in preschool. As a national leader, Attendance Works has brought the issue of chronic absence and its consequences to the attention of the federal government, states, and local communities.

GRoW Support


General Operating Support