Report Highlights Chronic Absenteeism

Sep 29, 2014

Rhode Island Kids Count releases new numbers on Monday that show 12 percent of young school children in Rhode Island were chronically absent during the last school year, meaning they missed 18 days or more of school.

The study finds that for Kindergarten students who are chronically absent, there is an increased risk of low achievement that persists at least into middle school. The students are also more likely to be held back a grade.

Rhode Island Kids Count Executive Director Elizabeth Burke Bryant says a number of factors can contribute to chronic absenteeism.

"Sometimes there’s illness, sometimes chronic asthma that hasn’t been addressed, in other families there are things that arise because of the precariousness of housing situations in low income families that are moving very frequently, so there’s issues that the school and community partners need to look at together," Burke Bryant said.

Overall, 19 percent of low income Rhode Island students in grades K-3 were chronically absent in the 2013-2014 school year, compared with just 5 percent of non low income students.

Kids Count has recommended that schools develop systems to monitor attendance and take steps to address it before it becomes a chronic problem. Burke Bryant says some schools have made progress in reducing absenteeism by making a concerted effort to keep track of attendance and communicate to parents about the importance of having students in school every day.