Registration & Attendance » Chronic Absenteeism

Chronic Absenteeism


Information on ‘NEW’ Attendance Procedures

In the 2017-2018 school year, a new definition of “absent” was used to identify students who were chronically absent. As part of the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, districts and schools are currently required to report to the South Carolina Department of Education the number of students who are chronically absent each year.  According to the United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), an absent student is one who misses 50 percent of the instructional day for any reason and regardless of whether the absence is excused or unexcused. In other words, students must attend class for at least half of the instructional day to be considered present for that day.

Using this new definition, the OCR requires states to report the number of students in each district and school who are absent at least 10% of the time during which they are enrolled in a particular school or district. More specifically, students who are enrolled in the same school for an entire academic year and miss 18 or more days (10 percent) will be considered chronically absent. The total number of chronically absent students will be included on district and school report cards and reported to the OCR. 


Chronic absenteeism is not the same as truancy.

Chronic Absenteeism

(Records the amount of instructional time lost during the day)


(Records the amount of unlawful absences during the school year)

Seat Time

(For applicable middle school classes and high school only)

Chronically absent: Any student in grade K-12 who misses 50 percent or more of the instructional day for any reason for 10 percent (or more) of the enrollment period.

All types of absences contribute to  chronic absenteeism:

Excused Absences

Unexcused Absences


 A student is absent if he or she is not physically on school grounds and is not participating in instruction or instruction-related activities at an approved off-grounds location for the school day.

Truant: A student between the ages of 6– 17  who has accumulated unexcused absences on three consecutive days or has accumulated a total of five or more unexcused absences during the academic year.

- Only full-day unexcused absences contribute to truancy.

- Excused absences and suspensions do not affect truancy.

Seat Time: 120 hours (year long) and 60 hours (semester) of seat time that a student must obtain in order to receive credit.

Semester (60 hours): 5 days

Year long courses (120 hours): 10 days

Medical excuses during the first 5 (semester) or 10 (year long) absences do not require seat time to be recaptured.

*Additional medical excuses will be documented as an excused absence for truancy purposes, BUT may also require seat time to be recaptured, as determined by the principal or designee.

*Because chronic absenteeism is associated with poor academic performance, increased dropout rates and decreased graduation rates, districts and schools are encouraged to make sure that parents are aware of this change.