Absenteeism rates at San Diego Unified
Source: Dataquest from the California Department of Education. Data for pandemic year of 2019-20 not included.

Tens of thousands of San Diego Unified students have missed so many school days they’re now considered chronically absent, which poses a threat to their learning and to the district’s financial resources.

This year’s chronic absenteeism rate among students has more than doubled since the year prior to the pandemic. District officials want to know what’s driving the issue and have assigned family service assistants to do home visits to find out why some children are missing school. 

In fact, the district’s chronic absenteeism rate among students is “very high,” the most severe level as defined by the state. Of the nearly 98,000 students enrolled at San Diego Unified, more than 27,700 — or 28.5% — were chronically absent as of January. 

That number is up from October when almost 18,000 students — or 19.2% of all students — were considered chronically absent. 

Students are considered chronically absent if, after 31 days of being enrolled, they have missed at least 10% of instructional days enrolled, according to the California Department of Education. Chronic absenteeism rates above 20% are considered “very high,” 10-20% are “high,” 5-10% are “medium,” and rates at or below 2.5% are “low” or “very low.” 

The Department of Education considers a significant decline or increase among chronic absenteeism rates when there’s at least a 3% change. Excused absences are labeled as absences when calculating the average daily attendance. 

The numbers are even greater among students with Individualized Education Plans, commonly called IEPs, who receive special education services and make up more than 15,500 of total students enrolled in the district. More than a third of these students — or 37.8% — were considered chronically absent in January, up from 26.1% in October. 

African American students, including those with disabilities, have been within the top three racial and ethnic groups that have chronically missed the most school days on average from the 2018-19 year, when they missed 28.7 days on average, to 2021-22, when they missed 35.7 days, according to state data. 

Read the full article on inewsource.org.

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