What does this measure?
The share of students in a school or district missing 10% or more of days in a school year due to absence.
School attendance is critical to a student's education. Elementary children who do not regularly attend school will miss out on developing key skills, such as reading and arithmetic, critical to future success in school and life. Secondary school children who do not regularly attend school are at higher risk of failing and dropping out, exhibiting delinquent behavior, and engaging in various forms of risky behaviors. School attendance is linked to success in academic and social outcomes both during school years and later in life.
How is our county doing?
In 2015, 13% of students were chronically absent in Essex County, the same as the state rate and little changed since 2009. Some local districts had rates near or above 20%, including Haverhill, Salem, Lawrence and Lynn. Rates were also very high in a few small charter schools: Amesbury Academy Charter Public school (57%) and New Liberty Charter School in Salem (70%).
Chronic absence was very low at the Lawrence Family Development Charter (1%), Boxford School District (2%) and both the Whittier Regional Vocational Technical and Topsfield School District (each at 3%).
The greatest decrease in chronic absence rates since 2009 was in Greater Lawrence Regional Vocational Technical School (down 8 percentage points) followed by Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School (down 5 points). The largest increase was at Amesbury Academy Charter Public (up 17 points), followed by the KIPP Academy Lynn Charter (up 7 points).
How do we compare to similar counties?
Essex County's rate was higher than the rate in Middlesex, MA of 10%. Data was not available for Lake, IL or Westchester, NY.
Notes about the data
Chronic absence is a different way of looking at school attendance from the more traditional measure of average daily attendance. Increasingly, educators and policymakers are tracking chronic absence as a more telling and insightful indicator. In any school or district, average daily attendance can be seemingly high (90% or higher) even though a small or moderate share of students are missing a lot of school.