Research into school attendance


​​​ Read the research on student attendance and reduce the risk of absenteeism and truancy by putting strategies and approaches into practice.

Research into success of strategies

Schools that have successfully improved attendance tend to use of a range of strategies across the three categories and tailored these to suit the needs of the local community. Their approaches have included:

  • focusing on teaching processes and support to improve student engagement with school
  • focussing on administrative processes to make monitoring student attendance easier for all school staff
  • using IT systems to assist with monitoring and alerting parents of unexplained student absences
  • allocating school staff to work with students and families
  • involving students in monitoring their own attendance rate
  • rewarding students for good or improved attendance.

In 2016-17, the department commissioned The University of Queensland to conduct research into the effectiveness of strategies to improve student attendance in Queensland state schools. The research involved data analysis, principal interviews from 50 selected schools with improved attendance, and case studies. The report proposed a model for addressing attendance issues which schools should consider when implementing attendance strategies. This model consists of:

  • developing common terminology and definitions
  • developing a comprehensive approach
  • making every day count.

View the full report Making Every Day Count: Effective strategies to improve student attendance in Queensland state schools.

Research on student attendance

Research shows that poor school attendance is associated with:

  • lower academic achievement including literacy and numeracy
  • early school leaving
  • leaving school with fewer qualifications
  • reduced opportunities for students to learn and access educational resources, further limiting achievement
  • further absenteeism in higher year levels
  • increased alcohol, tobacco, and substance use in adolescents.

For further research on student attendance, refer to Performance Insights: School Attendance (PDF, 815KB)

Research into strategies for improving student attendance

Strategies to increase student attendance include:

  • connective approaches that offer services or support for students and their families and focus on improving relationships between the school, student, and family
  • incentive approaches that reward students or their families for good or improved attendance
  • sanction-based approaches that penalise students and/or their parents for absenteeism.

Examples include:

  • increasing parental involvement through parental participation in classroom activities
  • referring families experiencing difficulties to community services to receive support
  • nominating school staff to track students' attendance and communicate with parents about absences
  • school-based (individual/group) therapy interventions
  • assisting students to improve self-esteem, cope with critical life situations, and deal with family or peer conflict, anxiety and depression
  • introducing incentives for students for full term/year attendance or improved attendance, such as certificates or prizes
  • enforcing attendance laws through fines for parents
  • using technology to monitor student attendance and alert parents if a student is absent (e.g. SMS or email to parents).

A further background paper presents the results from a 2015 survey of state school leaders on their attendance strategies and perceived effectiveness. Findings from the survey have helped inform further work by the department to promote increased student attendance. The full paper, summary and supporting information can be accessed below:

Performance Insights: School Attendance Strategies

Survey Report (DOCX, 2.1MB)
Appendices (DOCX, 420KB)
Infographic (PDF, 54KB)
Summary (DOCX, 815KB)
Presentation (PPT, 9.8MB)

More information

Statistics on student attendance

Last updated 06 September 2021