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ERIC Number: EJ1002822
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Oct
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0013-127X
The Importance of Being in School: A Report on Absenteeism in the Nation's Public Schools
Balfanz, Robert; Byrnes, Vaughan
Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, v78 n2 p4-9 Oct 2012
America's education system is based on the assumption that barring illness or an extraordinary event, students are in class every weekday. So strong is this assumption that it is not even measured. It is the rare state education department, school district, or principal that can tell one how many students have missed 10% or more of the school year or in the previous year missed a month or more--two common definitions of chronic absence. Because it is not measured, chronic absenteeism is not acted upon. Chronic absenteeism can wreak havoc long before it is discovered. That havoc may have undermined school reform efforts of the past quarter century and negated the positive impact of future efforts. Chronic absenteeism is not the same as truancy or average daily attendance. Chronic absenteeism means missing 10% of a school year for any reason. A school can have average daily attendance of 90% and still have 40% of its students chronically absent, because on different days, different students make up that 90%. Data from only six states address this issue: Georgia, Florida, Maryland, Nebraska, Oregon, and Rhode Island. How these states measure chronic absenteeism, however, differs by number of days and by whether or not data include transfer students. Such limited data produce only an educated guess at the size of the nation's attendance challenge: A national rate of 10% chronic absenteeism seems conservative and it could be as high as 15%, meaning that 5 million to 7.5 million students are chronically absent. Ideas to help improve attendance are offered.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Florida; Georgia; Maryland; Nebraska; Oregon; Rhode Island