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  • Erica Peterson

Heading in the Wrong Direction

Missed Instructional Time Graph

At the request of the California Department of Education, SI&A released its first statewide analysis of cohort student attendance data for the 2021/22 school year.

As I mentioned in my post last week, the trends have gone from bad to worse. The 22 page report shows crisis levels of chronic absenteeism across the state in the first two months of school. This is especially alarming as the historical norms for the start of a new school year are normally when a district has its lowest chronic absentee rates.

When comparing the start of school to October 2019 to the same point in time in October 2021 we see that chronic absenteeism has more than doubled from 11.2% of students chronically absent to now 27.4%. Early grade absenteeism continues to have the highest growth rates year over year, reinforcing that ongoing learning gaps dubbed the “COVID-slide” could persist through 2021. Putting it another way, the student cohort has lost a collective 4.1M hours of instructional time in the first few months of school. As abysmal as that staggering number is. It’s not too late 95% of these students, do not have end the year deemed chronically absent if their attendance habits improve now.

We recommend districts take a proactive, leadership approach:

  • Review attendance taking practices and ensure fidelity

  • We recommend that districts differentiate absences due to pandemic

    • Implement a pandemic-related absence code (Excused)

  • Prioritize outreach to students chronically absent last year

  • Know your data. Know what it means and the story it is telling at your district

  • Enlist all departments to focus on attendance, regularly share the data with other teams

Read the full report and our recommendations here.


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