Empty Seats: The Impact of Texas House Bill 2398 on Absence Rates among Low Socioeconomic Status Students in a Rural School District
John Kuhn, EdD, Mei Jiang, PhD & Chuck Holt, EdD


Chronic absenteeism—the repeated and excessive absence of a student from school for excused or unexcused reasons—affects children, their schools, their futures, and society. In this quantitative study, the researcher compared attendance rates before and after implementation of House Bill 2398 for low socioeconomic status English Language Learner (ELL) between ELL and non-ELL students at the elementary and secondary levels of schooling in a rural Texas school district. A three-way mixed Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) revealed a significant interaction between HB 2398 and ELL status. There was a statistically significant difference in the absence rates before and after passage of House Bill 2398 between ELL and non-ELL students. The study confirmed prior research regarding differences in absenteeism between ELL and non-ELL students. Surprisingly, absence rates generally increased after passage of House Bill 2398, which was intended to improve student attendance by emphasizing proactive rather than reactive approaches to truancy.