Driven by Data

Underlying Factors Causing Absenteeism

Attendance and absenteeism are continuous educational challenges. However, before schools can effectively address absenteeism and improve their attendance rate, it is critical to understand common factors that can impact the students they serve.

Researchers commonly categorize the major underlying causes of absenteeism into four major areas¹:

(1) Student-specific
(2) Family-specific
(3) School-specific
(4) Community-specific

These factors can affect students differently, depending on their age group. For example, an early childhood student’s attendance might be most directly impacted by familial-specific factors. A high school student may be impacted by a combination of factors, such as student and school-specific, which could contribute to disengagement and absenteeism. 

It is important for staff and teachers to work toward isolating which barrier(s) is critically impacting a student’s attendance, and then problem-solve with school administration and support staff to ensure that students are attending school every day. See table above for common strategies specific to each factor.

It is also critical to note the relationship between attendance rates and school culture. Schools that are able to create a building or network-wide environment that values and recognizes students attending school on time tend to have higher attendance rates and lower truancy/absenteeism.


  1. Jacob, B. and Lovett, K. (2017, July 26). Chronic Absenteeism: An old problem in search of new answers. Retrieved from:

[This post contributed by Breanna Day, New York Regional Data Manager and Vincentia Egonmwan, Data Specialist.]