Schools Are Open, But Students Are Still Missing Class As Chronic Absenteeism Soars

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The Daily Caller News Foundation – Reagan Reese on December 28, 2022

Though schools are open and are no longer relying on remote learning, many students are still chronically absent from class, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In the 2021-2022 school year, states reported seeing an increase in the amount of students  who were chronically absent, or missed at least 15 days of school in a year, since the 2018-2019 school year, according to the WSJ. States such as Connecticut, California and Michigan reported a near-doubling of their chronically absent rate from 2018-2019 to the 2021-2022 school year.

“If we care about having a next generation that has the literacy, the numeracy, the citizenship skills to make for a strong country, we have to be extremely concerned about the levels of absenteeism,” Hedy Chang, executive director of Attendance Works, a group focused on better policy and practice to improve school attendance, said to the WSJ.

Since the 2020-2021 school year, Michigan’s chronic absenteeism increased to 38.5%, nearly 20 points higher than the chronic absentee rate in the 2018-2019 school year, the WSJ reported. Chronic absenteeism in Wayne-Westland Community Schools, which has nearly 10,000 students in 17 schools, increased from nearly 33% in the 2018-2019 school year to 54.5% in the 2021-2022 school year.

Michigan’s fifth-largest school district, Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, saw its chronic absenteeism jump to 25.5% in the 2021-2022 school year; the chronic absenteeism rate was at 11% in the 2018-2019 school year, the WSJ reported.

“We attribute the majority of our absences to our students that are forced to be quarantined,” Monica Merritt, superintendent of Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, told the WSJ.

Chronic absenteeism in Connecticut more than doubled since the 2018-2019 school year, reaching 25% in the 2021-2022 school year, according to the WSJ. Danbury School District recorded a 24% chronic absenteeism rate in the 2020-2021 school year, a 17-point increase since the 2018-2019 school year.

In December, California reported a 12% increase in chronic absenteeism since the 2018-2019 school year, recording a 30% chronic absentee rate in the 2021-2022 school year, the WSJ reported.

The increase in chronic absenteeism comes as students are posting record learning loss; since 2019, every state has seen a decline in math scores, with students in fourth and eighth grade showing the largest drops ever recorded. Students’ reading scores dropped to where they were nearly two decades ago.

Wayne-Westland Community Schools, Plymouth-Canton Community Schools and Danbury School District did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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