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The absentee epidemic

New York Teacher

Students have been absent at record rates since returning to in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data compiled by Stanford University in partnership with the Associated Press.

More than 25% of students nationwide were chronically absent — defined as missing at least 10% of school days — in the 2021–22 school year, the most recent year most states have released data for. Before the pandemic, only 15% of students missed that much school.

Stanford education professor Thomas Dee, who analyzed the data from 40 states and Washington, D.C., found that absentee rates increased in every state in the 2021–22 school year. Absences were higher among Latino, Black and low-income students.

Most states have not yet released attendance data from the 2022–23 school year. Based on those that have, the chronic-absence trend appears to have long legs. In Connecticut and Massachusetts, the rate remained double what it was before the pandemic.

Reasons for missing school include poverty, housing instability, illness, bullying, anxiety, depression and feeling unwelcome or unseen at school.

Chronic absenteeism makes it harder for students to recover from pandemic learning losses.

Associated Press, Aug. 11