With the rise in the availability of absenteeism data, it is clear that students in the United States were missing much school time even prior to Covid closures. In response, researchers and policymakers have been identifying school programs that might reduce student absenteeism.
“Breakfast After-the-Bell” (BAB) is a school-based program where breakfast is served after school starts (rather than the traditional breakfast model, which occurs before school), either in the classroom itself or as a grab-and-go from a cafeteria where a student eats it in the first period classroom (or in-between first and second periods).
In an article published by Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Kirksey and Gottfried examined whether implementing this breakfast program might reduce school absenteeism. Exploring longitudinal statewide datasets (Colorado and Nevada) containing school breakfast information linked to national data on chronic absenteeism rates, they employed sharp and fuzzy regression discontinuity designs to examine the effects of BAB.
The findings suggest that schools serving BAB experienced a statistically significant decrease in chronic absenteeism. The strongest effects were experienced by high schools, schools with higher rates of breakfast participation (both overall and among students who are eligible for free lunch), schools serving universal free meals, and suburban schools.
Source: Kirksey, J. J., & Gottfried, M. A. (2021). The effect of serving “Breakfast After-The-Bell” meals on school absenteeism: Comparing results from regression discontinuity designs. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 0162373721991572.