Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. EA 1.3 School absenteeism

04/01/1997

Student absenteeism is associated with poorer achievement in school, among other outcomes. For example, absenteeism is one of five personal and family background factors that accounted for 91 percent of the variation in states mathematics scores.6

Differences Across Grade Levels. The percentage of eighth grade students who were absent from school three or more days in the preceding month has remained relatively constant at around 22 percent between 1990 and 1994 (see Table EA 1.3). During the same time period, a slightly larger percentage of twelfth grade students were absent from school for that length of time, with percentages ranging between 26 and 31 percent.
 

Figure EA 1.3  
Percentage of 8th and 12th Grade Students Who Were Absent from School Three or More Days in the Preceding Month, by Parents Education Level: 1994  

EA1_3.GIF

Note: The data for this table come from the 1994 National Reading Assessment. Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 1994.

Differences by Race and Ethnicity.7 There are notable differences in school absenteeism among racial and ethnic groups. Among eighth graders in 1994, Native American students, at 39 percent, were by far the most likely to have been absent 3 or more days in the preceding month. White and Asian students had the lowest absentee rates at 20 and 21 percent, respectively, followed by black and Hispanic students at 27 and 28 percent, respectively. The patterns are similar for 12th grade students, though the differences range from lows of 2628 percent for white and Asian students to a high of 53 percent for Native Americans.

Differences by Parents Educational Levels. Absentee rates among students also differ by parents educational levels (see Figure EA 1.3) Absences from school were highest for students whose parents have less than a high school education. In 1994, for example, 33 percent of eighth graders whose parents lacked a high school diploma were absent from school 3 or more days, compared to 18 percent of their peers who had at least one parent with a college degree.

Differences by Type of School. Students who attended private or Catholic schools also experienced fewer school absences than did students from public schools across all grades and years (see Table EA 1.3).
 

Table EA 1.3
School Absenteeism: Percentage of 8th and 12th Grade Students Who Were Absent from School Three or More Days in the Preceding Month, by Gender, Race/Ethnicity, Parents Education Level, and Type of School: 1990, 1992, and 1994
 

 
 
 
 
8th Grade 
12th Grade 
 
 
 
1990 
1992 
1994 
1990 
1992 
1994 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total
23 
22 
22 
31 
26 
28 
 
Gender
 
 
Male
21 
21 
22 
29 
24 
27 
 
 
Female
24 
24 
22 
32 
27 
28 
 
Race/Ethnicity
 
 
White, non-Hispanic
22 
21 
20 
31 
24 
26 
 
 
Black, non-Hispanic
23 
22 
27 
30 
29 
32 
 
 
Hispanic
27 
31 
28 
34 
32 
32 
 
 
Asian/Pacific American
12 
21 
32 
19 
28 
 
 
American Indian/Alaskan Native
37 
38 
39 
28 
31 
53 
 
Parents Education Level
 
 
Less than high school
38 
31 
33 
41 
30 
36 
 
 
Graduated high school
27 
23 
26 
34 
28 
30 
 
 
Education after high school
22 
21 
22 
31 
26 
27 
 
 
Graduated college
15 
19 
18 
27 
23 
25 
 
Type of School
 
 
Public
23 
23 
23 
31 
27 
28 
 
 
Catholic or other private
13 
14 
15 
24 
17 
21 
 
Note: The sample for this table is based on the 1990 and 1992 National Math Assessments, and 1994 National Reading Assessment. 

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 1990, 1992, and 1994.

 

6 National Education Goals Panel. (1994). The National Education Goals Report: Building a Nation of Learners. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

7 Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races.
 

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