As we mentioned, chronic absenteeism impacts students academically because they are not getting the education they need for future success. Aside from the negative impact on grades and test scores, we now know that absenteeism is often considered a precursor to dropping out of high school. But the consequences of poor school attendance go way beyond academics. It starts to impact lives in a far more devastating manner.
A 2016 study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation concluded that “people who are better educated are more likely to live longer, healthier lives.” Further, the study stated that college graduates are likely to live an average of approximately nine years longer than someone who dropped out of high school. The study also suggested that adults with less education are more prone to unhealthy habits (like smoking), obesity, and diabetes—all of which may contribute to premature deaths. Plus, people with more education are more likely to have jobs with better working conditions, better health insurance, and higher pay.
The students who are impacted most here are obviously the highest priority. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the impact that absenteeism has on school communities—and the greater community. PowerSchool correlated student enrollment with district funding. When students drop out, districts lose money, and that leads to a whole new set of problems: Fewer resources to support students, less money to hire and properly train school staff, and no budget for building repairs and updates. Eventually, this can lead to schools in a state of disrepair and, finally, school closures. And when neighborhood schools close…
Consider that in early 2022, nearly a dozen schools in Oakland, CA, closed or merged due to declining enrollment and lack of finances. This doesn’t just impact students who attended those schools. A study by Stanford University revealed that closing a school changes the entire landscape of a community, which ultimately plays a large role in the disintegration of Black neighborhoods across the country. In essence, the study found that school closures increase the likelihood of gentrification in primarily Black neighborhoods. So, chronic school absenteeism has consequential, far-reaching effects on both students and the surrounding school community.