There is growing consensus that student attendance is an important intermediate outcome influenced by teachers and other school inputs. However, the malleable school inputs that affect student attendance rates are poorly understood.
In an article newly published by Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Long Tran and Seth Gershenson investigated the effect of class-level inputs, including class size and observable teacher characteristics, on student attendance rates. They leveraged the random classroom assignments made by Tennessee’s Project STAR (Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio) class size experiment, and its publicly available data.
The results showed that:
- A ten-student increase in class size raised the probability of being chronically absent by about three percentage points (21%).
- For Black students, random assignment to a Black teacher reduced the probability of chronic absence by three percentage points (26%).
- Finally, about 5% of the impact of both class-size and student-teacher race match on test scores could be explained by improved attendance.
Source: Tran, L., & Gershenson, S. (2020). Experimental estimates of the student attendance production function. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. Advanced online publication. Doi: 10.3102/0162373720984463