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.
In 2017, 15% of students were chronically absent in Essex County, slightly below the state rate and little changed since 2009. Some local districts had rates near or above 20%, including Haverhill, Lawrence, Methuen, Rockport and Salem. Rates in most charter schools ranged from 3-7% with KIPP Academy having the highest rate at 13%.
Chronic absence was very low at the Lawrence Family Development Charter (2%), Topsfield School District and Whittier Regional Vocational Technical (each at 3%) and Boxford School District and Lynnfield School District (each at 4%).
The greatest decrease in chronic absence rates since 2009 was in Greater Lawrence Regional Vocational Technical School (down 7 percentage points) followed by Gloucester School District (down 6 points). The largest increase was at Rockport School District (up 17 points), followed by the KIPP Academy Lynn Charter (up 11 points).
Essex County's rate was higher than the rate in Middlesex, MA of 10%. Data was not available for Lake, IL or Westchester, NY.
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.