Across the country, students have been absentat record rates since schools reopened during the pandemic. More than a quarter of students missed at least 10% of the 2021-22 school year, making them chronically absent, according to the most recent data available. Before the pandemic, only 15% of students missed that much school.
All told, an estimated 6.5 million additional students became chronically absent, according to the data, which was compiled by Stanford University education professor Thomas Dee in partnership with The Associated Press. Taken together, the data from 40 states and Washington, D.C., provides the most comprehensive accounting of absenteeism nationwide. Absences were more prevalent among Latino, Black and low-income students, according to Dee’s analysis.
Absent students miss out not only on instruction but also on all the other things schools provide — meals, counseling, socialization. In the end, students who are chronically absent — missing 18 or more days a year, in most places — are at higher risk of not learning to read and eventually dropping out.
“The long-term consequences of disengaging from school are devastating. And the pandemic has absolutely made things worse and for more students,” said Hedy Chang, executive director of Attendance Works, a nonprofit addressing chronic absenteeism.
Related: Taxpayer funded Dane County Madison public health mandates and closed schools.
“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”
The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”
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