socastcmsRssStartBy Cole Lauterbach | Illinois News NetworksocastcmsRssEnd
More than 100 Illinois schools reported half of their students were chronically absent.
Statewide, Illinois schools reported slightly more absenteeism than the national average. Some individual schools reported alarming rates of kids missing class.
When a child is missing for ten percent of their school days, they’re considered chronically absent.
New Illinois school data released shows 17 percent of public school students were considered chronically absent.
Hedy Chang is the director of Attendance Works. She said the state’s average is a little higher than the national average of 15 percent, according to the Office of Civil rights. But more than 100 Illinois schools have at least half of their students considered chronically absent.
“Fifty percent is extraordinarily high,” she said, adding the nation’s districts with the worst attendance rates are in that same range or higher.
The problem was especially bad in East St. Louis District 189, which had an 82 percent chronic absenteeism rate.
That level of absenteeism not only hurts the students missing class, but also the others who must sit through repeats of what they’ve already learned so students who missed class can catch up.
“The pace of instruction, the ability to do group projects, everything is affected,” Chang said. “Teachers are really challenged with whose educational need to they meet in the classroom. Do you move forward? Do you repeat?”
The data isn’t an exact science. And there have been instances of intentional manipulation of attendance records.
The principal of a Chicago Public School District elementary school was relieved of his duties last month after officials said he was falsified attendance records.