Editorial: How student health affects attendance

On Tuesday, we explained how chronic absenteeism (when a student misses 15 or more days of school in a single year) jeopardizes academic outcomes and puts children at greater risk for an array of problems later in life. Students who miss too much school fall behind early – their standardized test scores slip below average, they stop reading at grade level, etc. – and many of them never manage to overcome this academic deficit.

The U.S. Department of Education released a comprehensive report on chronic absenteeism last year, and it revealed how pervasive the problem is in our country. In the 2013-2014 school year, around one-seventh of American students missed at least three weeks of class – a proportion that “translates to approximately 98 million school days lost.” As we noted earlier in the week, the rate of chronic absenteeism at USD 501 was even higher than the national average: 24 percent (districts with comparable demographics often report rates in the 20 percent to 30 percent range).

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