Early Warning Indicators (EWIs) are student background or academic performance factors that have been connected to students who are at risk of dropping out of school. The primary three indicators, often called the ABCs of EWIs, are as follows:

  • Attendance
  • Behavior
  • Course failure

These factors can be used to track student performance and indicate when a student may be at risk for dropping out of school (Balfanz & Chang, 2013). Because attendance has been correlated with academic achievement, gaps in attendance translate into gaps in achievement and, eventually, gaps in achievement become gaps in graduation (Balfanz & Byrnes, 2012).

Students with disabilities are among the student populations most significantly affected by chronic absence. Students with physical disabilities may incur absences due to health concerns. Another reason for chronic absences may be school aversion, perhaps related to school bullying or other school environment issues (Attendance Works & Healthy Schools Campaign, 2015). Recognizing student attendance issues and addressing the causes is an essential task for school personnel that requires careful examination of attendance data. According to Balfanz and Chang (2013), "A school can have a 95% average daily attendance rate and still have 25% of its students chronically absent," (p.1). Students missing 10% of school days are considered to be chronically absent and typically show signs of academic difficulties. The Campaign for Fiscal Equity (2011) concludes, "Making the necessary changes to improve and sustain attendance from elementary to the high school years is an important step in increasing graduation rates and preparing students for the future," (p.56).


The Attendance Imperative: How States Can Advance Achievement by Reducing Chronic Absence
This brief describes the steps that districts can take to reduce chronic absence in schools. Resources include an Executive Summary, full policy brief, and State Appendix that highlights state efforts to combat chronic absence.

Attendance Works
The Attendance Works website contains numerous resources including an awareness toolkit, research, videos, newsletter, technical assistance and updates on state awareness activities including a policy brief, updates on state activities, a link to its Count Us In toolkit and a community highlight feature.

Count Us In Toolkit
Click on this link to access the Count Us In Toolkit containing ideas, suggestions, advice, and materials for promoting school attendance.

Community Highlights
Click on this link to read the stories and ideas shared by communities promoting Attendance Awareness Month.

E-Summit on Chronic Absenteeism and Student Achievement
This summit, held on Wednesday, November 20, 2013, was hosted by New York City May Michael R. Bloomberg and the U.S. Council of Mayors to present new research on why reducing chronic absence matters and to outline the core steps that any community can take to improve school attendance.

Holiday Messaging Toolkit
Talking points, sample messages, letters, and other resources in English and Spanish for communicating the importance of keeping students in schools before and after holidays.


Attendance Works & Healthy School Campaign. (n.d.). Mapping the early attendance gap: Charting a course for school success. Retrieved from

Balfanz, R., & Byrnes, V. (2012). Chronic absenteeism: Summarizing what we know from nationally available data. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Center for Social Organization of Schools. Retrieved from

Balfanz. R. & Chang, H.N. (2013). Improve attendance: Increase success. Principal Leadership, 14(3), 20-24.

Campaign for Fiscal Equity. (2011). Taking attendance seriously: How school absences undermine student and school performance in New York City. Retrieved from