Research Shows At Least Half of All Parents Underestimate Impact of Absenteeism

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New research released today by the Ad Council found that an overwhelming majority (86%) of parents understand their child’s school attendance plays a big role in helping them graduate from high school. However, nearly half (49%) of parents believe that it is okay for their children to miss three or more days of school per month – and that they won’t fall behind academically if they do. In reality, missing just two days of school per month makes children more likely to fall behind and less likely to graduate.

The Study

One third of parents surveyed in the new Ad Council survey say they could do more to ensure that their child attends school every day. There are many reasons why students miss school when there are resources available to help. Some are struggling in the classroom, while others may be having trouble with bullies or dealing with challenges at home.

Children who are chronically absent in preschool, kindergarten and first grade are less likely to read on grade level by the third grade. Students who cannot read at grade level by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

The Ad Council survey was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs in June 2016. Ipsos surveyed more than 1,000 parents of children ages 6-13 to capture key attitudes regarding their children’s school attendance.

A Campaign to Educate On Absenteeism

To combat chronic absenteeism, the U.S. Department of Education, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and the Ad Council partnered to create a new public service campaign – Absences Add Up.

Absences Add Up is part of the My Brother’s Keeper Every Student, Every Day initiative, a broad effort to combat chronic absenteeism led by the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Justice. The initiative calls on states and local communities across the country to join in taking immediate action to address and eliminate chronic absenteeism by at least 10% each year, beginning with the current school year.

The Absences Add Up campaign directs parents and community members to, where they can find information about the importance of school attendance and resources to learn how to help children who are struggling in school, being bullied, managing chronic illness or dealing with mental health challenges.

The site also provides parents with resources to assist with caregiving, housing and food challenges. For teachers, community leaders, after school programs, and mentoring partners, there is information about how to encourage school attendance and resources to help address issues like poor grades, bullying, and family challenges that cause children to miss school when they don’t have to.