Chronic absenteeism, usually defined as missing 10% or more of the days in a school year, is a widespread challenge that can lead to long-term problems for young people. Students who are chronically absent miss out on crucial learning, and studies suggest that chronically absent students are more prone to dropping out of school than students who attend classes regularly. This problem is especially severe in Pennsylvania, where at least 1 in 10 students in more than half of schools are chronically absent, according to data from the Office of Civil Rights.

To help the state’s educators improve attendance, the Regional Education Laboratory Mid-Atlantic at WestEd held a workshop on chronic absenteeism developed in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). In the below recording of the virtual workshop, presenters define chronic absenteeism, explore its prevalence and root causes, introduce promising strategies to prevent it, and describe key components of interventions that have successfully reduced chronic absenteeism in the past.


  • Natalie Lacireno-Paquet, REL Mid-Atlantic
  • Aimee Evan, REL Mid-Atlantic
  • Cecelia Leong, Attendance Works
  • Nima Tahai, Go Public Schools

WestEd’s Natalie Lacireno-Paquet conducts research and evaluation projects geared toward program improvement. Prior to joining WestEd, Lacireno-Paquet was an assistant professor of educational leadership at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and worked in the survey division at Mathematica Policy Research.