Whenever a child does not attend school, it’s detrimental to their education. According to Attendance Works, the leading national organization on school attendance, there are two ways that people refer to absenteeism: truancy and chronic absence. These words are not interchangeable, and describe two different aspects of the problem with different solutions.
Truancy refers to only unexcused absences and is tied to laws that vary from state to state. These laws define how many unexcused absences students can have before they are considered truant. Fixing the problem of truancy is about ensuring compliance with these laws, which tends to fall on administrators and sometimes the legal system.
Chronic absenteeism refers to all absences a student has from school, including excused, unexcused, and suspensions. The concerns for students who are chronically absent are the academic problems that can result from the lost classroom time. Schools want to work with families to fix the underlying problems that lead to chronic absenteeism. This is where community organizations like Show Up, Stand Out come in. They can address the issues that affect the children, such as health problems, homelessness or no reliable transportation. Community support can resolve some of the barriers to attendance.
Both of these terms describe different problems and it is important to use different approaches as a solution to help get children to attend school every day.
Used with permission of Attendance Works.