Why Aren’t Students Showing Up for School?

Understanding the Complexity Behind Rising Rates of Chronic Absenteeism
Commentary authors

The surge in chronic absenteeism among California students during the 2020–21 and 2021–22 school years was initially attributed, quite reasonably, to the challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic. There was optimism that these rates would eventually begin to decline as schools returned to normal. When new chronic absenteeism numbers came out in October—along with California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASSP) data for 2022–23—the findings indicated that rates are down from the soaring absenteeism of 2021–22; 25 percent of K–12 students in California schools were chronically absent in 2022–23, down from 30 percent the year before. However, more than three years after the initial onset of the pandemic, chronic absenteeism among California students is still double the rate of prepandemic levels, and there are no signs of this trend abating.

November 16, 2023 | EdSource

Two years after California schools reopened their classrooms to in-person instruction following the Covid-19 pandemic, students continue to struggle—both academically and emotionally. Both of these factors are deeply connected and recovery requires a team effort, according to panelists at the...

September 8, 2023 | EdSource

COVID-19 cases are on the rise throughout Los Angeles Unified and the county. Public health experts are urging caution while school officials are looking to keep children in the classroom for their academic progress and emotional well-being. Despite the surge...

May 25, 2023 | The Sun Newspapers

When should children begin their summer reading? How about yesterday? According to a blog from the children’s publisher Scholastic, 96% of educators agree providing year-round access to books at home is important for student achievement. And 94% of parents agree...

Chronic Absenteeism Post-Pandemic

Let’s Not Make This Our “New Normal”

Chronic absenteeism (when a student misses 10 percent or more of instructional days during the school year for any reason) has spiked by an alarming degree, increasing more than twofold statewide, from 14% in 2020–21 to 30% in 2021–22. This increased absenteeism during 2021–22 is, of course, not entirely surprising. When students returned to school after a year of pandemic-induced virtual learning in 2020–21, they were encouraged to stay home if they had any symptoms, and many students had to miss school to quarantine after an exposure to COVID-19. Even though the pandemic is largely behind us at this point, early warning signs show that we now face challenges with attendance that could persist into the long term; although data for the current school year (2022–23) will not be released at the state level until fall 2023, locally released data show that the patterns this year may be as worrisome as last. How do we urgently move the needle on our high rate of chronic absenteeism so that it does not become the new normal in our state?

California Test Scores Show the Devastating Impact of the Pandemic on Student Learning

Commentary authors

Recent test scores released by the California Department of Education highlight a concerning decline in student learning in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics across multiple grades since before the COVID-19 pandemic. Changes in enrollment and reduced testing numbers in certain grades pose challenges for direct year-over-year comparisons. Notable is a concerning drop in ELA performance for third graders, indicating potential setbacks in early literacy, while eighth graders show a significant decline in math proficiency. These declines were pervasive among various student groups, with economically disadvantaged, Black, and English learner students particularly affected. District-level analyses underscored variations in performance changes, with economically disadvantaged districts experiencing larger declines, though some managed to improve. The impact of COVID-related disruptions on these groups, coupled with pre-existing disparities, intensified learning setbacks. These findings highlight the urgent need for educational transformation, emphasizing equity and addressing persistent disparities in California's education system.