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Chronic School Absence
The Chronic School Absence indicator is measured by the proportion of students missing more than 10% of school days per year (based on public school attendance only). Chronic school absence is an indicator of student participation and engagement in the public school system. Students who missed days of school, missed the opportunity to learn, leading to lower test scores and a reduced likelihood of graduating from high school. Increased school absence can predict problems learning and poor academic performance, as well as lower standardized test scores and high school dropout rates. One in five Alabama eighth-graders is chronically absent from school, and among fourth-graders, that number rises to 22% of students are chronically absent. Chronic school absence has household, school, and community-level causes, including: community prevalence of chronic diseases such as asthma; quality and accessibility of the health care system; community safety; poverty and family circumstances; school social environment (e.g., bullying, stigma, discrimination); and social cohesion and trust. Although listed under Health Systems and Public Safety, the Chronic School Absence indicator has strong relevance to the Educational Opportunities, Social Cohesion, Economic Health, and Employment Opportunities domains. The indicator is an “inverse” measure, meaning that, the higher the value, the higher the negative impact on community health. Data on student attendance is available from the Alabama State Department of Education.