As absenteeism plagues Virginia’s public schools, the state’s Board of Education voted to reject the Department of Education’s recommendation absences not be factored into accreditation.
The board rejected the proposal in a 6-2 vote, the Virginia Mercury reports.
“I think we are sending very much the wrong signal instead of creating a culture of getting kids back to school,” said board member Bill Hansen, who voted against the recommendation, according to the Mercury. “I know that the school leaders are just doing herculean efforts, but I think we’re sending the wrong signal here, and I think [there are] some other ways we could go about this.”
Two years before the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia education officials determined that chronic absenteeism would be included as one of nine factors for school accreditation scoring. As defined by the state, chronic absenteeism occurs when a student misses 10% or more of one school year.
Although all Virginia schools fully reopened in September 2021, student absences continue to be four times higher than before the pandemic.
Studies show that attendance deeply impacts academic performance: students who attend consistently will have higher achievement scores and better grade point averages.
Test scores have already hit new lows after failed pandemic policies such as school closures and online learning, promoted by teachers’ unions, led to widespread learning loss among students
Across the country, the average elementary school student in public schools lost the equivalent of half of a year of math, and a quarter year of reading, according to the Education Recovery Scorecard.