Chart of the week: Majority of schools in D.C. on track to improve chronic absenteeism as of fall 2023 

May 24, 2024
  • Chelsea Coffin

Chronic absenteeism has been a challenge post-pandemic in D.C. and across the nation. In D.C., chronic absenteeism rose from 29 percent in school year 2018-19 to 48 percent in school year 2021-22 when students returned to in-person learning, and then improved to 44 percent in school year 2022-23 (remaining higher than pre-pandemic levels).

In school year 2023-24, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is publishing midyear reports on attendance in kindergarten through grade 12 for the first time. A 2023-24 Mid-Year Attendance Brief showed that chronic absenteeism between July and November decreased by 6 percentage points between 2022 and 2023, especially in kindergarten through grade 8.[1] Recently released data at the school level show that these improvements to chronic absenteeism are happening at the majority of schools: out of 229 schools with data for both years, 85 percent experienced a decrease of at least 1 percentage point, and 66 percent experienced a decrease of at least 5 percentage points. Many of the schools with the largest decreases (larger than 20 percentage points) had chronic absenteeism rates between 40 and 60 percent in school year 2022-23, whereas fewer schools with very high chronic absenteeism had big swings.

Forthcoming data from OSSE will show attendance as of March 2024 and over the full school year.

[1] Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). 2024. “2023-24 School Year Attendance Reporting.” OSSE. Retrieved from


Chelsea Coffin

Director of the Education Policy Initiative
D.C. Policy Center

Chelsea Coffin joined the D.C. Policy Center in September 2017 as the Director of the Education Policy Initiative. Her research focuses on how schools connect to broader dynamics in the District of Columbia. She has authored reports on diversity in D.C.’s schools, the D.C. schools with the best improvement for at-risk students, and the transition after high school in D.C. Chelsea has also conducted planning analysis at the D.C. Public Charter School Board, carried out research at the World Bank, and taught secondary school with the Peace Corps in Mozambique.

Chelsea holds a Bachelor of Arts from Middlebury College and a Master of Arts from Johns Hopkins University (SAIS) in International Economics and Development.

You can reach Chelsea at