Although not as commonly reported as average daily attendance, chronic absence data may be of significant importance for understanding student success. Using data from 1148 participants in the Chicago Longitudinal Study, we assessed the associations of chronic absence in the early middle grades, grades fourth through sixth, with eighth-grade achievement and three measures of high school attainment including four-year graduation by diploma, graduation by diploma by age 21, and any high school completion by age 21. The rate of chronic absenteeism, defined here as students missing approximately 14. days of school or more in a year, was 15%. Using Ordinary Least Squares, probit regression, and inverse-probability-weighting regression-adjustment methods (IPWRA), results indicated that chronic absence in the early middle grades was negatively associated (d = -0.17) with eighth-grade math achievement and reduced the probability of four-year graduation by diploma by 18 percentage points, graduation by diploma by age 21 by 17 percentage points, and any high school completion by age 21 by 11 percentage points. IPWRA yielded similar estimates. Coefficients varied by subgroup with males and children of mothers who completed high school experiencing more detrimental effects. Associations of chronic absence with outcomes are important to understand because school interventions and practices which begin early can be effective in reducing the prevalence of absenteeism.
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