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Practice Meets Policy

The same is not true for students with disabilities who are 1. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act IDEA is intended to ensure all students with disabilities have access to a free, appropriate education yet chronic absenteeism is a barrier that gets in the way of achieving that goal.

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At roughly 16 percent each, male and female students are similarly likely to be chronically absent. Chronic absenteeism occurs at every grade level but is more prevalent in some grades than others. Chronic absenteeism rates are highest in high school, according to data in the Civil Rights Data Collection. Other research suggests that students in the early elementary grades also experience high rates of chronic absenteeism , which may be masked in analyses that are only available at the school level as is the case here.

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Understanding when students are most at risk will help schools and advocates better target interventions to improve student outcomes. Overall, more than 20 percent of students in high school are chronically absent compared with more than 14 percent of students in middle school. The chronic absenteeism rate was the lowest for elementary school students, at almost 14 percent. For more information on how we defined grade levels, see the data notes. Next, we looked at how chronic absenteeism varied across grade levels for specific groups of students. For each subgroup of students there is a similar pattern: the likelihood of chronic absenteeism increases as students progress into high school.

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Notably, the stronger overall attendance observed among English learners dissipates over grade levels, such that they experience higher chronic absenteeism than their non-English learner peers when they reach high school. Students experience chronic absenteeism from coast to coast.

Disturbingly, approximately school districts reported that more than 30 percent of their students missed at least three weeks of school in Chronic absenteeism is widespread—about one out of every six students missed three weeks or more of school in That translates to more than million school days lost. Research suggests the reasons for chronic absenteeism are as varied as the challenges our students and families face—including poor health, limited transportation, and a lack of safety — which can be particularly acute in disadvantaged communities and areas of poverty.

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Whatever its causes, chronic absenteeism can be devastating:. Children who are chronically absent in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade are much less likely to read at grade level by the third grade. It is why he pushes so much for stories about bright spots in his district. Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers. Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

By Marlon A.

Walker , The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Instead of hunkering down to do the hard work of educating students, states argue with each other over the standard of proficiency in exams, parcel taxes allow affluent communities to raise more funds for their school than others, and unions and management have made contentious contract negotiations a way of life. As we begin with a renewed commitment to improving public schools, let us hope that the people who are most charged with this task will fulfill it based on solid, logical truths and not on political ideologies. Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you.

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