IU: 55,000 Hoosier Students Chronically Absent From School
Study: missing more than 18 school days a year linked to poor scores
CEEP Education Policy Director Terry Spradlin (WIBC.com photo: Eric Berman)
An IU study finds five-percent of Indiana students are chronically absent.
IU's Center for Evaluation and Education Policy says more than 55,000 students miss 10-percent or more of their scheduled school days, and says the number would be even higher if schools counted suspensions as absences.
CEEP education policy director Terry Spradlin says those absences are even more closely tied to academic failure than poverty is. He says students on the free-lunch program who miss only a few days of school are four times more likely to graduate than those who are chronically absent. IU says chronically absent students scored 35-to-70 points lower on the ISTEP test.
Hedy Chang with the San Francisco-based education group AttendanceWorks acknowledges other factors may cause chronically absent students to struggle in school, rather than their attendance record itself. But she says the state needs to formally track chronic absenteeism so it can identify those students and address any underlying issues, from health care to transportation.
The Indiana Department of Education has said it can't track chronic absenteeism because state law lets local districts define what counts as an absence.