Before we can close achievement gaps and reduce dropout rates, we need to address the attendance gaps that start in kindergarten, and even in preschool. Across the country, absenteeism disproportionately affects the students from low-income families and communities of color and those with disabilities. The early attendance gaps, left unchecked, turn into achievement gaps reflected in weaker skills, lower test scores and, ultimately, lower graduation rates. Many of these early absences are excused because of physical and mental health concerns, but they still represent lost learning time. This session will address what is chronic absence, why it matters, and how California school psychologists can take a proactive approach to supporting student attendance.

Annie Reed has worked at the intersection of health and education for over a decade. In addition to serving as a Special Projects Manager with Attendance Works, she is in the process of earning her doctorate in public health from the University of California, Berkeley. She has worked as a district administrator at the Chicago Public Schools where she led the Department of Student Wellness, including oversight of physical education, recess, active classrooms, health education, nutrition education and school gardens.