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Lower test scores linked to absenteeism

New York Teacher

Public schools experienced a surge in chronic absenteeism during the COVID-19 pandemic, which experts believe is connected to the recent historic drop in student test scores.

During 2020-21, the first full academic year of the pandemic, at least 10.1 million students were absent, 25% more than in a typical year, according to U.S. Department of Education data analyzed by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the nonprofit Attendance Works.

Early data from Connecticut, Ohio, Virginia and part of California shows that absenteeism doubled in the 2021-22 academic year. National data has not been released yet, researchers said.

Students are considered chronically absent when they miss more than 10% of school days for any reason.

Math scores fell in nearly every state and reading dipped on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

“If kids are getting less instruction, or less-consistent instruction, you’re going to learn less and you’re going to be able to answer fewer questions on the tests,” said Johns Hopkins education professor Robert Balfanz, the director of the university’s Everyone Graduates Center.

Chronically absent students are less likely to read on grade level by 3rd grade, more likely to score lower on standardized tests, more likely to get suspended in middle school and more likely to drop out of high school.

Washington Post, Sept. 29