Kindergarten students who take the school bus to miss fewer classes than children who commute to school in other ways, according to new research.
Using a national sample of 14,370 kindergarten students from a U.S. Department of Education study, Michael A. Gottfried, an associate professor of education at the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that in the 2010–2011 school year, public school kindergarten children who took the bus were two percentage points less likely to miss more than 10 days than students in the same school district.
Taking the bus could potentially reduce the number of U.S. public school kindergartners who are chronically absent by almost 50,000 students, according to additional analysis by Gottfried.
Previously published research has found that kindergarten students with more absences have lower test scores in kindergarten and in future years. But it does not end with test scores. Generally, students who miss more school also tend to have higher rates of grade retention and dropout, more difficulty with social development, greater feelings of alienation, increased drug and alcohol use in young adulthood, and worsened employment prospects.
“Reducing absenteeism in young children is critically important to their futures,” Gottfried said. “Absenteeism in kindergarten has been shown to have short- and long-term links to poor academic performance and future absenteeism.”
His study was published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.