Last week, for the first time, the state released state-wide, school-level data on chronic absenteeism since it started collecting it two years ago. The data reveal that more than 1 in 10 students were chronically absent last year, and that, unsurprisingly, schools’ most vulnerable populations experienced even higher rates: 1 out of 4 foster children were chronically absent, as were 1 out of 5 homeless students, students with disabilities, African-American students, and Native-American students. The negative impact of these troubling numbers is borne out by the research, which speaks loudly to the effects of chronic absenteeism on students’ learning and development, especially in early grades. According to research studies, chronically absent students have a reduced likelihood of reading proficiently by 3rd grade and an increased likelihood of dropping out in high school—and chronic absenteeism disproportionately impacts these outcomes for students living in poverty, students of color, and students with disabilities.
Sean Murphy, Assistant Director of Program Assessment and Evaluation