What is chronic absenteeism and why is it important?
Chronic absence is when a student misses 10% or more of their school days, whether the absences are excused or unexcused. Every absence, excused or unexcused, is a learning opportunity lost and can have significant impacts on a student’s success in school. A student who misses 10% or more of their school days for any reason, which can mean just two days a month during the school year, is significantly more likely to fall behind academically and less likely to graduate from high school.
Our school has high chronic absenteeism rates. How do we get started?
The first steps in addressing chronic absence include: 1) understand who or which students are chronically absent 2) understand why your students are absent and 3) start by addressing factors that impact all students and families (or tier 1).
Who: Start by identifying the students that were chronically absent last year and who is on track for being chronically absent this year.
Why: In addition to the data in a school’s student information system, there a multiple other sources of data that can provide a deeper understanding of why students are absent including: the Healthy Youth Survey, focus groups, school climate surveys, & individual student screeners. There are many reasons why students may be absent, and these tools can help schools dig deeper in order to effectively address the root cause.
Start with All Families and Students: Building a strong and positive culture of attendance can start with establishing a definition of regular attendance, teaching the expectation and raising awareness about the importance of attendance through attendance campaigns.
What is our state definition of absence?
The state definition of an absence is when a student is not physically present on school grounds and not participating in instruction or instruction-related activities at an approved off-grounds location for at least fifty percent of the student's scheduled school day. OSPI currently undergoing rulemaking to amend this definition for the 2018-19 school year.
How is Regular Attendance measured under our new Washington School Improvement Framework (WSIF)?
The attendance indicator in the Washington School Improvement Framework (WSIF) is regular attendance. This indicator is the inverse of a school’s chronic absenteeism rate.
Students are included in the numerator if they have less than 6 full-day absences (excused and unexcused) and they are enrolled for at least 90 calendar days. 6 absences over 90 calendar days represents 10% of the student’s school days. (For each additional month of enrollment, a student will be counted in the numerator if they have less than an additional 2 full-day absences, on average.) Students are included in the denominator if they were enrolled for at least 90 calendar days in the school. Find more information about this indicator and the Washington School Improvement Framework (WSIF) in ESSA Implementation 101.
The data included in the indicator are pulled from CEDARS; it includes excused and unexcused full day absences. A full day is defined as missing 50% or more of a student’s scheduled day.
What is our state definition of truancy? How is truancy different than chronic absenteeism?
A student is truant when they miss 5 or more unexcused days in a month or 10 or more days that are unexcused in a year. Truancy is different than chronic absenteeism because it only looks at unexcused absences. It has a legally defined threshold and process for districts and courts to follow. For more information, see the OSPI Truancy webpage.