Present, Engaged and Ready to Learn: School Absences of America’s Youngest Children

Early childhood education programs serve as a major vehicle for expanded social opportunity for children from economic disadvantage, yet many children are absent from school per year, which limits the efficacy of these educational institutions. Even with the potential long-term consequences of school absences, there has been little work done on children’s school attendance before the transition to kindergarten when some suggest absenteeism is at its peak. This project uses nationally representative data from three cohorts of Head Start attendees between the 2006 and 2015 school years and a sample of pre-K attendees in one of the nation’s largest school districts from 2016-2017. More specifically, this project will provide a deeper understanding of (a) the patterns, correlates and outcomes of school absenteeism among low-income and ethnically diverse children and (b) the extent to which absenteeism may detract from the benefits and goals of early childhood education.

Project Status: 2018 - 2020

Funding Source: Spencer Foundation

Principal Investigator: Arya Ansari