Student attendance and educational outcomes: every day counts

Education Schools Australia Western Australia

Regular attendance at school provides children with opportunities to develop the basic skills for learning, and assists in the development of social skills including communication, self-esteem, teamwork and friendship building.

Attendance is a precursor for learning and onward skill development. Understanding how patterns of attendance are established in the early years of school and the nature of the relationship between attendance and achievement, can help maximise learning opportunities for all students.

We used data from the WA Department of Education on school enrolment, attendance and NAPLAN (literacy and numeracy) achievement from 2008 to 2012 to assess the attendance patterns of over 415,000 primary and secondary students across the 5-year period.

We also examined how these patterns vary for students with different characteristics. We examined the extent to which authorised and unauthorised absences from school related to NAPLAN achievement after controlling for a range of factors.

We investigated how absence rates in previous years relate to current achievement levels and whether there is a "safe" threshold of absence where students could catch up on missed schooling without affecting their overall achievement. The results of the study are described in the final report.


Authors: Kirsten J. Hancock, Carrington C. J. Shepherd, David Lawrence & Stephen R. Zubrick.

This report has been prepared by the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research at the University of Western Australia for the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR).

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