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Absenteeism Connects School Climate and Student Achievement

It seems like common sense: Students who feel unsafe at school stay home. That basic premise may underlie the link between poor school climate and lower student achievement, according to a new study in the journal Urban Education.

Mathematica researchers analyzed data on school safety, engagement and climate from more than 340,000 students in more than 700 New York City middle schools from an annual survey taken from 2007 to 2010.

They found student reports of violence at school were more strongly associated with school reports of bullying and fighting than gang activity or alcohol use. Students who felt less safe missed more days of school. Moreover, only 3 percent of students who reported feeling safe at school reported staying home "most or all of the time," versus 15 percent of students who reported feeling unsafe.

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