States tackle chronic absence in schools

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

School attendance is about more than figuring out who is playing hooky.

Until recently, schools mostly looked at the student body's overall attendance rate and the truancy—or unexcused absences—of individual students.

Now a growing number of states and school districts are increasing their focus on students who are "chronically absent" from school—whether the absences are excused or unexcused. States have different definitions of chronic absence, but it is often defined as missing at least 10 percent of the school year for any reason.

Chronic absence is a key indicator for problems such as dropping out and lower academic achievement, according to recent research, so educators are hoping to identify students early enough to intervene.

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