The percentage of students who attended less than 90% of school days
Black students are 56% more likely to be chronically absent than white students.
A score of 100 represents racial equity, meaning there are no racial disparities in outcomes between black and white populations. The lower the Equity Score, the greater the disparity.
For Chronic Absenteeism, a score of 100 — a score reflecting racial equity — would mean black and white children have the same school attendance rates. It is important to note that for this indicator, equity is not our only goal: we also want to improve outcomes for all.
What does this indicator measure?
Chronic Absenteeism measures the percentage of students who attended less than 90% of school days. This indicator includes elementary, middle, and high schools in St. Louis City, and includes St. Louis Public Schools and charter schools. In 2016, 13.8% of all students were chronically absent, which means 4,615 students attended less than 90% of school days.
Chronic absenteeism analysis
Students who attended 90% or less of school days in St. Louis City.
|All||Black||White||Disparity Ratio||Equity Score|
|Chronically absent students||4,615||3,705||444||-||-|
|Chronic absenteeism rate||13.8%||15.0%||9.6%||1.564 to 1||58|
Data Source: Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 2016.
What does this analysis mean?
Black students are 56% more likely to be chronically absent than white students. Black students are the most likely to be chronically absent (15%), followed by white students (9.6%). Hispanic students are the least likely to be chronically absent (9.3%). High school students are much more likely to be chronically absent (20.5%) than K-8 students (11.6%). If chronic absenteeism rates were equitable, then 1,336 fewer black students would be chronically absent.
Why does Chronic Absenteeism matter?
Children don’t learn as well or as much if they miss school. According to the U.S. Department of Education, chronic absenteeism leads to lower student achievement, and is linked to a higher likelihood of dropping out of school. In addition, guardians of chronically absent students who are absent without good reason are liable for truancy and may be referred to the Truancy Division of Family Court. In 2016, the guardians of 174 students were referred to St. Louis City Family Court for truancy.
Which Calls to Action from the Ferguson Commission report are linked with this indicator?
The Ferguson Commission report states, "Some schools, districts, and states use early-warning data to identify students at high risk for dropping out. These early-warning systems use academic indicators such as course grades, GPA, class rank, behavior marks, and attendance rates [...] allowing the schools to intervene before it is too late." Specific calls to action to address these concerns include:
Questions for further investigation:
- Why is there a racial disparity in Chronic Absenteeism?
- What can St. Louis do to reduce racial disparities in Chronic Absenteeism?
- What initiatives are currently underway to reduce racial disparities in Chronic Absenteeism?
How can I learn more about this issue?
If you are a parent that needs help improving your child’s school attendance, the Truancy Initiative Project is a voluntary diversion program of St. Louis City Family Court designed to improve the school attendance of referred juveniles. In the 2016-2017 school year, the Truancy Initiative Project served 239 students, 77% of whom improved their attendance.
Learn more about chronic absenteeism from Attendance Works, an organization that conducts local and national applied research. Their most recent research paper is a state-level analysis of the relationship between school attendance and standardized test scores: "Absences Add Up: How School Attendance Influences Student Success."