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.
Why is this important?
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 2021, 18% of students were chronically absent in Essex County. This is an increase of 4 points from 2020 and reflective of a general increase in chronic absenteeism statewide since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Some local districts had rates near or above 30% in 2021, including Peabody, Gloucester, Salem, and Haverhill. Chronic absence was very low at the Boxford School District (2%) and Topsfield School District (3%).
The largest increase in chronic absence rates from 2020 to 2021 was at Kipp Academy Lynn Charter (up 24 points), followed by the Peabody School District (up 18 points). The greatest decrease was in Rockport (down 28 percentage points) followed by Georgetown (down 6 points).
How do we compare to similar counties?
Essex County's rate was higher than the rate in Middlesex, MA of 13%. 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.