Responding in part to this research, the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law in 2015, raised the stakes on attendance. It required states to add at least one nonacademic measure of success into their state accountability systems. Thirty-six states and Washington, D.C., chose chronic absenteeism. Not just student success, but school success, would be defined in part by this metric: How many kids missed more than 10 percent of days in a school year.
The carrot and the stick
Mariajose Romero, a Pace University sociologist who has researched attendance for decades, calls it “a piece of information that has tremendous political currency,” which only intensified when it became a measure of school accountability. Not only students, but also schools, succeed or fail based on the students who show up every day. And so, “it’s important to count people properly.”
School systems responded to the new pressure of the