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Getting America’s Missing Students Back to Class

Bloomberg – Editorial Board

“U.S. schools have made great strides over the last two decades in improving student performance and behavior. In-school crime is down, as is fear for personal safety, while graduation and college enrollment rates are up. One malignancy, however, has stubbornly resisted treatment: chronic absenteeism. According to new data from the U.S. Department of Education, 13 percent of all students — more than 6 million in total — missed at least 15 days of school in 2013-14. The repercussions of so many missed days are clear. Children chronically absent in the first years of elementary school are much less likely to read at grade level by age 9, which in turn makes them four times as likely to drop out of high school…Having accurate nationwide data on the scope of the problem is big step forward. The hard job of improving attendance, however, falls to states and localities. There are encouraging signs, though no one should underestimate the difficulty.”(more)

New Data Show Chronic Absenteeism is Widespread and Prevalent Among All Student Groups – Press Release

“A new analysis from the U.S. Department of Education shows that chronic absenteeism impacts students in all parts of the country and is prevalent among all races, as well as students with disabilities. The first-ever national comprehensive data collected on chronic absenteeism reveal that more than 6 million students—or 13 percent of all students—missed at least 15 days of school in the 2013-14 school year. The data paint a striking picture of how many students miss three weeks or more of school each year…”Chronic absenteeism is a national problem,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “Frequent absences from school can be devastating to a child’s education. Missing school leads to low academic achievement and triggers drop outs. Millions of young people are missing opportunities in postsecondary education, good careers and a chance to experience the American dream.””(more)

One way to improve kindergarten attendance: Take the school bus

EdSource – Jane Meredith Adams

“Students who ride the school bus in the critical first year of formal education – kindergarten – are absent less often and have lower odds of being chronically absent, a key indicator of future academic success, according to a new study…It is believed to be the first to quantify the effect of school bus transportation on chronic absenteeism. Kindergarten was once considered by some to be a relatively insignificant grade level – it is still not mandatory in California until age 6. But as the heft of kindergarten curricular offerings has increased, so have the ramifications of missing formative instruction. Research has linked chronic absenteeism in kindergarten – defined as missing 10 percent or more of school days – to lower achievement in future grades in math and reading, an increase in problem behavior and difficulty in obtaining a score of “proficient” on California’s 3rd-grade reading test. In turn, students who struggle with reading in 3rd grade are less likely to graduate from high school on time.”(more)