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Chronic absence data is a powerful tool for addressing educational inequity. In a new report Attendance Works and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University break down the most recent federal chronic absence data and find that nearly 8 million students nationwide were missing so many school days in the 2015-16 school year they are at risk of failing academically.

Data Matters: Using Chronic Absence to Accelerate Action for Student Success, is the most comprehensive analysis to date of data on chronic absence in the nation’s schools. The report compares the first-ever release of chronic absence data in the U.S. Department of Education’s 2013-14 Civil Rights Data Collection to the most recent 2015-16 school year CRDC release.

“Chronic absence data casts a spotlight on where we as a country have failed to provide all students with an equal opportunity to receive a quality education,” said Hedy Chang, Executive Director of Attendance Works and a co-author of the report.

The inclusion of chronic absence in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) represents a turning point in education policy that has made the measurement of absenteeism a key component of state policy, the report notes. This year for the first time all states will be required to include chronic absence data in their report cards.

The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution developed an interactive data map to accompany the report. The map allows everyone to explore chronic absence rates at the school, district, and state level, data that often has not yet been made easy to find or use.

The analysis shows an increase of more than 800,000 chronically absent students in the 2015-16 school year compared to 2013-14, and the percentage of students chronically absent grew in most states (37). The researchers note that much of that growth can be attributed to more accurate reporting of chronic absences.

The report, released during Attendance Awareness Month, includes ten key findings from the analysis of OCR data. It also:

  • Shows that one out of 4 schools face high or extreme levels of chronic absence
  • Includes tools for identifying causes of chronic absenteeism and developing locally tailored solutions.
  • Offers recommendations for taking action
  • Shares state data reports for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, each comparing data from 2013-14 and 2015-16 school years, that enable anyone interested to see how state data differs from national trends

Click here to find Data Matters: Using Chronic Absence to Accelerate Action for Student Success, the interactive map and the state charts.

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