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The Education Crisis Nobody is Talking About

By Team Kinvolved

Top K–12 leaders recognize that all academic success starts with students showing up to class. After all, the best curriculum paired with the best instruction and resources aren’t worth anything if the student isn’t in class to benefit from them.

Whether class is virtual, face-to-face, or a hybrid of the two, the underlying truth remains: every student needs to be in every class to succeed.


Because the repercussions of students not being in class are dire. Missing just two days a month of school negatively affects a student’s academic performance. Conversely, improved attendance rates are connected with improved academics and graduation rates. Attendance can influence whether a student can read proficiently by the end of third grade, which has a series of significant repercussions of its own; for example, students who cannot read at grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely than proficient readers to drop out of high school. Additionally, chronically absent students are less likely to graduate on-time compared to their peers.

Since absenteeism is so closely correlated with poorer academic outcomes and dropout rates, looking at the statistics around dropout rates is equally concerning:

  • Over half of high school dropouts are on public assistance
  • The lifetime cost to taxpayers per student that drops out of high school exceeds $300,000
  • Young women who drop out of high school are 9 times more likely to become single mothers
  • Nearly 83% of incarcerated persons are also high school dropouts
  • Over 60% of individuals who dropped out of high school are rearrested for repeat criminal activity
  • Lower earnings from high school dropouts can mean as much as $2 billion in lost tax revenue each year
  • High school dropout, which chronically absent students are more likely to experience, has been linked to poor outcomes later in life, from poverty and diminished health to involvement in the criminal justice system.

These statistics are frightening in “normal” times, and they’re absolutely terrifying knowing that districts across the country are struggling to make contact with their students and properly manage attendance during COVID-19. 

For example, in Los Angeles, 5,000 high school students were AWOL online, and 40,000 didn’t check in daily amid spring 2020 coronavirus closures. In the Kansas City area, up to 40% of students in grades three to 12 were not checking in, and over 20% of NYC high schoolers weren’t engaging in remote learning

Suffice to say, the cases of absenteeism ran rampant in the spring, but were largely ignored due to the quick spread of COVID-19 and sudden school closures. However, as districts begin to open up for the fall semester around the country, it’s expected they would have an effective plan in place to properly manage attendance and be able to communicate that with their communities and public at large.

The shocking truth is that few districts have addressed the problem sufficiently, likely expecting another “pass” in the fall. But this can’t go unnoticed, and this can’t remain unaddressed. The more students we have absent during the pandemic—whether remote or in person—the more risk we introduce for our society in the future. The stakes for our country—the risk of having an entire generation of students be largely absent—is too high and too detrimental for consideration.

Providence Public School District (PPSD) is One of the Districts Doing it Right

Based in Rhode Island, PPSD quickly positioned themselves as a leader in attendance by creating a thorough Crisis Attendance Management plan that can function effectively in any learning scenario. The district has a robust attendance management software (KiNVO), the ability to communicate with all families and students regardless of language, device, internet access, or housing situation, and precise protocols around how educators and building level leaders will manage attendance and communicate with families.

Additionally, all of PPSD's community members and stakeholders can access the districts Crisis Attendance Management (CAM) plan for transparency and understanding.

This is the type of accountability and effectiveness that every district should strive for.

Next Steps

Talk with your district leaders, talk with your school board members, talk with your fellow community members, and ensure that your local schools are in contact with all of their families and have a public attendance management plan in place to ensure every student is in class.

If you or your district would like a comprehensive Crisis Attendance Management (CAM) plan, a robust attendance management software, or proven methods to prevent absenteeism (in any learning scenario) so that your students stay on track to graduate regardless of the coronavirus, please contact us. In the spring of 2020, our partner schools saw a significantly lower drop-off in attendance compared to other schools in their regions. We are here for you and are ready to support.

Tags: attendance

Download our Guide to Family Partnerships

For chronically absent students, the more qualified hands on deck—those with watchful eyes, listening ears, and open hearts—the better the chance they have to succeed. This e-book showcases the voices, and heartbeats, of our educators, who share how their strategies for building student and family relationships, having tough conversations, and celebrating bright spots. The teachers and leaders featured here face real challenges and save real lives every day, and the ability to see things from their perspective drives our work.