As many as 15 million students are missing at least one in 10 days of school every year, reducing their chance of graduating from high school or college.
That’s according to a new report from GetSchooled.org and researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
At a weekend education conference in Philadelphia, GetSchooled and other experts cited three main reasons for chronic absenteeism:
- Lack of awareness — Many parents don’t realize that missing two days of school a month can add up to a lot of lost time. In addition, some parents of kindergarteners and first graders don’t realize that their kids need to be in school every day.
- Medical issues — Farrah Lafontant is a parent coordinator for her child’s New York City school. Students at the school have a high rate of asthma, and part of Lafontant’s duties included assuring those parents that the school was ready and capable of dealing with any asthma attacks.
- Social/economic issues — Florida has been hit by the national recession as hard as any state, and the problem of growing rates of student homelessness have been well documented.
The problem comes with a price tag: Chronically absent students are less likely to graduate. Those that do graduate are less likely to be ready for college, and students who require remedial courses in college are less likely to graduate
Florida is one of six states which measures chronic absenteeism. On its website, the department posts school and district data the number and percentage of students missing 21 or more days each school year.
In Florida 9.6 percent of students are considered chronically absent.
In general, Florida’s rural districts have a higher rate of absenteeism than urban districts. More on that later.