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Researchers have studied how school attendance affects NAEP scores.14 For example, fourth graders who missed three or more days in the month prior to the assessment scored an average of 12 points lower in reading than peers with no absences—a difference that translates into more than a full grade level on the NAEP achievement scale. In eighth grade, students with poor attendance scored an average of 18 points lower on the math assessment.

Researchers have also noted that chronic absenteeism tends to spike in kindergarten, sixth grade, and ninth grade. These are years when many students are transitioning to new schools and may be struggling to adjust.

Absenteeism is also strongly linked to dropout rates. A statewide study in Utah found that students who were chronically absent in any year, starting in 8th grade, were 7.4 times more likely to drop out than students who were never chronically absent.15