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California Report Finds Truancy Rates Are Higher in Low-Income Students

DOE Report Finds Truancy Rates Are Higher in Low-Income Students

When it comes to students being absent, there may be a class divide in California's schools.

Research from the U.S. Education Department discovered lower-income students were "chronically" truant nearly four times the rate of all students during the last school year, said the LA Times. Data indicated that more than 744,000, or about 1 in 5 students were truant, and about 90 percent of California's students with severe attendance problems were low-income students.

"The state attorney general's office partnered with Aeries Student Information System, a company that helps manage student data, to release the voluntary survey of 32 school districts, covering a total of about 150,000 students. Of all students with severe attendance problems, defined as missing 36 days or more, about 90% were low-income."

The highest levels of truancy were in the earliest grades, according to the article. For kindergarteners, 26 percent were tardy or absent for three or more days, in comparison with 21 percent of fifth-grade students. This, the article said, "puts them at a disadvantage to achieve elementary reading and math benchmarks, according to the report."

" These are crucial years to develop literacy skills that help students prepare for their subsequent academic studies, the report notes, and students who don't read at grade level by third grade are four times more likely than their peers to drop out of school," the LA Times said.

Students of color, the study found, are similarly vulnerable. African American students missed 10 percent or more of the school year at almost four times the rate of all students. 

The report said it's unclear why this number is so high, but suggests that "these students may encounter a number of issues that make it hard to get to school, such as health and transportation problems."

"Good education policies are meaningless if students aren't at their desks," state Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris said in a statement. He also said that students missing class "puts a strain on the state economy."

"School districts lose an estimated $1 billion annually of funding because of student absences; an additional $46 billion is lost every year due to reduced earnings, stunted economic growth and juvenile criminal court costs," the article said. 

Read the full story. 

Article by Kassondara Granata, EducationWorld Contributor

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