The relationship between school absence, academic performance, and asthma status

J Sch Health. 2008 Mar;78(3):140-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.2007.00276.x.


Background: Children with asthma experience more absenteeism from school compared with their nonasthma peers. Excessive absenteeism is related to lower student grades, psychological, social, and educational adjustment. Less is known about the relationship between the presence of asthma and the academic achievement in school-aged children. Since students with asthma miss more days from school, this may negatively impact their academic achievement. The goal of this study was to investigate the relationships between absenteeism, presence of asthma, and asthma severity level with standardized test level performance in a predominantly African American urban school district.

Methods: A cross-sectional analysis was conducted of 3812 students (aged 8-17 years) who took the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) standardized test during the 2002-2003 academic year.

Results: After adjustment for covariates, a significant inverse relationship was found between absenteeism and test level performance on the MAP standardized test in all children (F = 203.9, p < .001). There was no overall difference in test level achievement between those with and without asthma (p = .12). Though not statistically different, those with persistent asthma showed a modestly increased likelihood of scoring below Nearing Proficient compared with those with mild intermittent asthma (adjusted odds ratio = 1.93, 95% confidence intervals = 0.93-4.01, p = .08).

Conclusions: A negative impact of absenteeism on standardized test level achievement was demonstrated in children from an urban African American school district. Children with asthma perform the same academically as their nonasthma peers. However, those with persistent asthma show a trend of performing worse on MAP standardized test scores and have more absence days compared with other students. More research is warranted on the effects of persistent asthma on academic achievement.

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism*
  • Achievement*
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Aptitude Tests
  • Asthma / psychology*
  • Black or African American
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Missouri
  • Schools
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Students / psychology*
  • Urban Population
  • White People