Being absent for a large number of days is considered a leading cause of students falling behind in school. A student who misses 10 percent or more of the days they were enrolled in school school is considered chronically absent. In 2018-19, more than 12 percent of California's K-12 public school students were chronically absent, and the rate was much higher for certain student groups such as homeless students (25 percent chronically absent).
To provide more information about the levels of chronic absenteeism, the California Department of Education (CDE) collects and reports information on the number and rate of students who are chronically absent. Chronic absenteeism is also a state academic indicator and LCFF priority on the California School Dashboard. These data are collected by the CDE as part of the annual End of Year 3 (EOY 3) data submission through the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS).
Ed-Data's trend graphs enable you to see chronic absenteeism rates and counts for a school, district, county or the state as whole. You can see overall data or drill in for more detailed information by student subgroup. And you can drill in further to see whether the students attend traditional district schools or charter schools. These data are also now available in the school and district comparisons.
Where to find the data
On Ed-Data, you will find these data in a new section of the Student tab called Chronic Absenteeism. Chronic absenteeism is also part of the School and District Comparison tools.
Downloadable data files for chronic absenteeism can be found on the CDE website at: https://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/sd/sd/filesabd.asp
Detailed reports on chronic absenteeism as well as additional explanations and glossary definitions can also be found on the DataQuest website.
How chronic absenteeism is calculated
Students are determined to be chronically absent if they were enrolled for a total of 30 days or more at the selected reporting level during the academic year and they were absent for 10 percent or more of the days they were expected to attend.
Local education agencies, which include school districts, county offices of education and charter schools, submit absenteeism data to the CDE as part of the annual End of Year 3 (EOY 3) data submission in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS). Because student might enroll in or leave a school at different times during the school year, the chronic absenteeism count and rate are based on Cumulative Enrollment and the Chronic Absenteeism Eligible Enrollment.
Chronic absenteeism is different from truancy, because both excused as well as unexcused absences are counted, while truancy only reflects unexcused absences and indicates a violation of California’s compulsory attendance law.
Definitions from the California Department of Education
The definitions below are taken directly from the DataQuest report glossary for chronic absenteeism.
Cumulative Enrollment: Cumulative enrollment consists of the total number of unduplicated primary and short-term enrollments within the academic year (July 1 to June 30), regardless of whether the student is enrolled multiple times within a school or district.
Chronic Absenteeism Count: Total count of ALL chronically absent students at the selected entity for the selected population using the available filters. Students are determined to be chronically absent if they were enrolled for a combined total of 30 days or more at the selected reporting level during the academic year and they were absent for 10% or more of the days they were expected to attend.
Chronic Absenteeism Eligible Enrollment: This count uses the Cumulative Enrollment of the selected entity as the baseline and removes students that were not eligible to be considered chronically absent at that entity. Students that are enrolled less than 31 instructional days at the selected entity are not eligible to be considered chronically absent at that entity. This is calculated by looking at the number of "expected days to attend" that LEAs submit for each student in CALPADS. Students with exempt status are also removed from Chronic Absenteeism eligibility. Students are considered to be exempt if they are enrolled in a Non-Public School (NPS), receive instruction through a home or hospital instructional setting or are attending community college full-time.
Chronic Absenteeism Rate: The unduplicated count of students determined to be chronically absent (Chronic Absenteeism Count) divided by the Chronic Absenteeism Enrollment at the selected entity for the selected population using the available filters.