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School Attendance in Tennessee



Beginning in the 2017-18 school year, chronic absenteeism was made part of district and school accountability. The measure is called the Chronically Out-of-School Indicator. This indicator will be based on what research calls chronic absenteeism, which is defined as a student missing 10 percent or more of the days the student is enrolled-for any reason, including excused absences and out-of-school suspensions. Excessive absences from school represent lost instructional time for a student. The department of education encourages districts and schools to carefully review attendance data throughout the school year to ensure supports are in place to maximize learning time for all students. 

In order to be successful in addressing chronic absenteeism, it is important that we view attendance as more than a legal or compliance issue and try to understand what factors may be contributing to a student’s absences. Furthermore, we can best serve students by viewing attendance as an opportunity to learn and chronic absences as an indication of barriers or conditions that are limiting that opportunity.


Chronic Absenteeism in Tennessee's Early Grades

 Study By - Division of Data and Research Central Findings

• Almost all elementary schools serve chronically absent students, even schools with the highest
average daily attendance rates.
• Chronic absenteeism is particularly prevalent for economically disadvantaged students.
Economically disadvantaged students are three times more likely to be chronically absent in
elementary schools than their non-economically disadvantaged peers.
• On average, by the end of third grade, a student who is chronically absent in kindergarten misses
80 days of school, while a student who is not chronically absent misses 30 days of school. This
50-day gap means that a chronically absent student misses more than a quarter of a school year
more than his or her non-chronically absent peers over those first four years in public school—
making it more difficult to help these students reach proficiency in the classroom.
• A student who is chronically absent in third grade is significantly less likely to be reading on
grade level (as measured by the TCAP English language arts exam) than a demographically
similar peer who is not chronically absent.




State Department of Education Links

Tennessee Department of Education 



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