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Millions of Kids Are Chronically Absent From School

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This article was originally published at StateOfUnion.org. Publications approved for syndication have permission to republish this article, such as Microsoft News, Yahoo News, Newsbreak, UltimateNewswire and others. To learn more about syndication opportunities, visit About Us.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a significant increase in chronic absenteeism among American schoolchildren, with nearly 15 million students missing at least 10 percent of school days in the 2021–22 school year.

Even before the pandemic, 6.5 million students were chronically absent, highlighting a persistent issue in American schools.

Absenteeism has serious academic consequences, particularly for students in high-poverty districts, and reversing this trend is challenging.

“It is well documented that if a student misses more than 10 days of school in a school year, that there’s a marked impact on their ability to remain caught up or to even catch up, given many of the gaps that we have in educational experiences for students,” St. Louis Public Schools superintendent Keisha Scarlett said.

“The key to keeping kids in school is noticing as soon as possible when they’re starting to miss too much,” Attendance Works executive director Hedy Chang said. “So someone can go out and talk to them and re-engage them, and find out what would help them to come back.”

Efforts to address absenteeism, such as home visits, have shown limited effectiveness, and the impact of pandemic-related school closures has likely exacerbated the problem.

“[Absenteeism is] what the corona did,” reporter Alec MacGillis said. “They’re sending the kids back to school, and they don’t want to no more. They want to stay home and play on their computers.”

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