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OSPI Releases Data on Student Attendance and Absenteeism

Regular school attendance as early as pre-K has long-lasting impacts, but too many students are still chronically absent

OLYMPIA — April 13, 2017 — School attendance is a substantial factor in student success. While it seems like this notion is intuitive, Washington state was recently ranked second-worst in the nation for its number of chronically absent students.

Today, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) released data and analytics on student absenteeism rates. For the 2015-16 school year, an average of 16.7 percent of students across the state were chronically absent, which is a 0.7 percent increase from the 2014-15 school year.

“Chronically absent” is defined as a student missing 10 percent or more of their school days, equaling 18 days in a year or two days per month. Students who are chronically absent do not perform as well as their peers who show up, and the linkage begins as early as kindergarten.

Students who are chronically absent in kindergarten are considerably less likely to read be able to read at grade-level by third grade. On the same note, chronically absent ninth graders are much more likely to fail at least one core course (math, English, or science). In fact, attendance and failing a core course in the ninth grade are two of the strongest predictors of whether or not a student graduates high school.

“About 21 percent of our students are not graduating high school, and absenteeism plays a huge role in that,” said Chris Reykdal, Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“We share this data with districts, educators, parents, and communities because we all have a role to play in promoting good attendance and getting our students graduated,” Superintendent Reykdal continued.

During the last year, OSPI has interviewed districts that have been successful in lowering absenteeism rates. Most of these districts are providing a “multi-tiered system of supports,” which is a framework that aligns both academic and non-academic supports with the students who need them most.

The districts with low absenteeism rates are providing supports by:

  • using data to catch absences early before they add up;
  • building positive relationships with families and students and engaging them early and often;
  • clearly communicating the school’s attendance expectations;
  • creating community partnerships; and
  • raising awareness of the impacts of chronic absenteeism.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver and Washington native Jermaine Kearse recently partnered with OSPI, the Department of Social and Health Services, and Mentoring Works Washington to leave voicemails for students and parents reminding them not to miss school.

“Get up and get to school! Don’t be left on the sidelines. The future is all yours; all you have to do is show up,” Kearse’s message to students says. The partnership also includes the Seattle Storm and Seattle Sounders, who will work with players to set up recordings soon.

Chronic absenteeism is one of the indicators that will be included for schools in the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) accountability framework.

Today’s release is part of OSPI’s Performance Indicators – Data and Analytics work designed to help the state and school districts make data-informed decisions. As new data sets are released, they are posted on the OSPI Data and Analytics webpage.

For more information


About OSPI
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Chris Reykdal, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and improve student achievement on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.

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Nathan Olson
Communications Manager
(360) 725-6015 |

The OSPI Communications Office serves as the central point of contact for local, regional and national media covering K-12 education issues.

Communications Manager
Nathan Olson
(360) 725-6015


   Updated 4/13/2017

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