Jing Liu Amber Northern Design Challenge Submission


October 16, 2023


Proposal Summary

Numerous studies have found that school absenteeism reduces student achievement, grades, and even the likelihood of graduating from high school and enrolling in college. In recent years, chronic absenteeism rates have been widely used as a “measure of school quality” under the Every Student Succeeds Act. However, similar to test scores, chronic absenteeism rates are highly correlated with student demographics, family backgrounds, and other factors that schools cannot control. Thus, raw absenteeism measures do not gauge a school’s performance in combating absenteeism and can be misleading for decisions to reward or punish a school.      

Based on findings from a study we conducted in 2022, we propose a value-added approach to measure schools’ contribution to student attendance. Schools’ value-added to attendance barely correlates with their raw attendance rates, is highly stable over time, and positively correlates with students’ perceptions of school climate such as school safety. There is also suggestive evidence that students attending schools with higher value-added to attendance are more likely to attend college. Adding a value-added measure of schools' contribution to attendance to accountability systems can complement the existing use of chronic absenteeism rates and help empower and reward schools that develop strategies to reduce absenteeism.