Study: Michigan students among nation's most chronically absent

Posted: 8:40 AM, Dec 06, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-06 13:40:56Z

Many children in Michigan are not making it to school, according to a study from the University of Michigan.

The study says close to one out of every six children enrolled in the state's public and charter schools were chronically absent during the 201617 school year, missing 10 percent or more school days.

"These rates are cause for alarm," said Jennifer-Erb Downward, senior researcher at U-M's Poverty Solutions. "We know chronically absent students are less likely to meet grade-level proficiency standards and are more likely to drop out.

"If we are going to improve our state's education system, we need to figure out how to help kids get to school. The data show that to do that we have to address the impact of homelessness and poverty."

Key findings from the study include:

  • Chronic absenteeism is a statewide issue  – all regions had districts with chronic absenteeism rates of 25 percent or more
  • Economically disadvantaged students were chronically absent at a rate three times greater than their higher-income peers
  • Close to one-third of African American students were chronically absent
  • Homeless students had the highest chronic absenteeism rate in the state at 40 percent

Researchers say economically disadvantaged and homeless students account for close to half of all students in Michigan and make up 75 percent of all students chronically absent in the state.

"Chronic absenteeism must be reduced in order to make long-term improvements in reading and math proficiency and graduation in Michigan," Erb-Downward said. "Unless Michigan addresses the impacts of economic and housing insecurity on attendance, it will not see significant improvement in academic outcomes."

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