Dear Colleague Suggests Targeting Chronic Absenteeism
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A Dear Colleague letter from the U.S. Department of Education asked States to take action in targeting chronic absenteeism.  The letter notes that the number of students missing at least 10 percent of school days – about 18 days in a year – increased during the pandemic, and ED expresses concern about the long-term educational success of students who meet this benchmark.


The letter asks States to take three actions to address chronic absenteeism.  The first is increasing attendance through the consolidated State plan for implementation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), including through accountability systems and targeting attendance as part of school improvement plans.  The guidance also suggests that States invest in real-time tracking and intervention systems to identify and target students who are, or are at risk of becoming, chronically absent. 


Second, the letter suggests that States access resources provided by ED, including through the Student Engagement and Attendance Center (SEAC) to help implement evidence-based strategies.  A fact sheet linked in the letter highlights resources available to schools and districts to promote attendance.


Last, the letter urges States to “redouble efforts” to invest any remaining American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds in evidence-based strategies for improving regular attendance, including through transportation, wrap-around services, and contracting with community-based organizations to help families find housing. 

About the Author

Julia Martin is an attorney with the Washington, DC law firm The Bruman Group, PLLC. Established in 1980, the Firm is nationally recognized for its federal education regulatory and legislative practice, providing legal advice regarding compliance with all major federal education programs as well as the federal grants management requirements, including the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR). In addition, they work with agencies on federal spending flexibility, allowability, policies and procedures, audit defense and resolution and legislative updates. The Firm provides government relations services for the National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators (NAESPA).