Schools are open, but students are still missing class as chronic absenteeism soars

(Daily Caller) – Though schools are open and are no longer relying on remote learning, many students are still chronically absent from class, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In the 2021-2022 school year, states reported seeing an increase in the amount of students  who were chronically absent, or missed at least 15 days of school in a year, since the 2018-2019 school year, according to the WSJ. States such as Connecticut, California and Michigan reported a near-doubling of their chronically absent rate from 2018-2019 to the 2021-2022 school year.

“If we care about having a next generation that has the literacy, the numeracy, the citizenship skills to make for a strong country, we have to be extremely concerned about the levels of absenteeism,” Hedy Chang, executive director of Attendance Works, a group focused on better policy and practice to improve school attendance, said to the WSJ.

Since the 2020-2021 school year, Michigan’s chronic absenteeism increased to 38.5%, nearly 20 points higher than the chronic absentee rate in the 2018-2019 school year, the WSJ reported. Chronic absenteeism in Wayne-Westland Community Schools, which has nearly 10,000 students in 17 schools, increased from nearly 33% in the 2018-2019 school year to 54.5% in the 2021-2022 school year.

Michigan’s fifth-largest school district, Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, saw its chronic absenteeism jump to 25.5% in the 2021-2022 school year; the chronic absenteeism rate was at 11% in the 2018-2019 school year, the WSJ reported.

“We attribute the majority of our absences to our students that are forced to be quarantined,” Monica Merritt, superintendent of Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, told the WSJ.

Chronic absenteeism in Connecticut more than doubled since the 2018-2019 school year, reaching 25% in the 2021-2022 school year, according to the WSJ. Danbury School District recorded a 24% chronic absenteeism rate in the 2020-2021 school year, a 17-point increase since the 2018-2019 school year.

In December, California reported a 12% increase in chronic absenteeism since the 2018-2019 school year, recording a 30% chronic absentee rate in the 2021-2022 school year, the WSJ reported.

The increase in chronic absenteeism comes as students are posting record learning loss; since 2019, every state has seen a decline in math scores, with students in fourth and eighth grade showing the largest drops ever recorded. Students’ reading scores dropped to where they were nearly two decades ago.

Wayne-Westland Community Schools, Plymouth-Canton Community Schools and Danbury School District did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.