For Immediate Release: September 27, 2019
JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) has released the most recent school- and district-level chronic absence data, which shows that 13.05% of Mississippi students were absent 10% or more of the 2018-19 school year. This is the lowest rate since the MDE has been calculating and reporting chronic absenteeism rates.
Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10% (18 days) of the school year for any reason, which includes excused and unexcused absences and suspensions. Chronic absence differs from Average Daily Attendance (ADA), which is the average number of enrolled students who attend school each day. A school’s ADA often mask issues surrounding the number of students who are chronically absent.
During the 2018-19 school year, 63,226 Mississippi students were chronically absent, which is a decrease of 19,746 students from the previous school year.
“Our declining chronic absenteeism rate is encouraging, and it corresponds to rising student achievement statewide,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “Students who attend school regularly perform better academically.”
Similar to national trends, Mississippi kindergarteners have the highest chronic absenteeism rate among the elementary school grades at 13.29%, then rates decrease steadily throughout grades 1 through 5. The rates increase steadily throughout middle and high school. The rate peaks in grade 12 at 26.20%, which is a significant decrease from 34.52% in 2017-18.
The MDE launched a statewide attendance awareness campaign in 2018 to encourage regular school attendance. The Strive for Less than Five campaign challenges students and school districts to reduce individual absences to no more than five absences over the course of the entire school year. Mississippi’s campaign is part of a national movement to reduce chronic absenteeism.
“Schools, parents and communities need to work together to make sure all children are attending school regularly,” Wright said. “Chronic absenteeism has a negative impact on student achievement because students who are not in school are not learning.”
Starting as early as preschool and kindergarten, chronic absence can leave 3rd graders unable to read proficiently, 6th graders struggling with coursework and high school students off track for graduation.
Mississippi chronic absenteeism report: https://www.mdek12.org/OPR/Reporting/Reports
Districts with Lowest and Highest Chronic Absenteeism Rates:
Note: School districts identified in orange and red on the highest rate chart depict the school districts with the highest chronic absenteeism rates for two and three consecutive years, respectively.
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications
Jean Cook, APR
Director of Public Relations