Chicago Public Schools students are missing much more school than their peers across Illinois, with the problem getting much worse since the pandemic, according to an Illinois Policy Institute analysis.
PRESS RELEASE from the
ILLINOIS POLICY INSTITUTE
CONTACT: Micky Horstman (312) 607-4977
Nearly half of Chicago Public Schools students chronically absent in 2022
CHICAGO (Jan. 31, 2023) – Chicago Public Schools students are missing much more school than their peers across Illinois, with the problem getting much worse since the pandemic, according to an Illinois Policy Institute analysis.
Nearly 45% of CPS students were chronically absent during the 2021-22 school year, surpassing the state average of 30%. Low-income students saw a higher absentee rate than the district average, with 49% of low-income students missing 18 or more school days, Illinois State Board of Education data shows.
Absenteeism has significantly increased since the pandemic. In 2019, only 24% of CPS students were chronically absent. Just over 26% of low-income students were chronically absent that year.
Chronic absenteeism ties into other long-standing issues within CPS, including:
- Chronic absenteeism is determined by missing 10% or more of school days per year either with or without a valid excuse.
- Research shows frequent absences from school place children and adolescents at a higher risk of poor outcomes, such as dropping out of school and lower academic achievement. Experts also find lower socioeconomic status is associated with higher levels of absenteeism.
- The district’s problem with absenteeism may be worse than statistics let on. The Chicago Board of Education Inspector General recently found administrators in CPS may have misreported absent students as transfers, erroneously boosting attendance rates and other key metrics. The inspector general has investigated and reported on this kind of misconduct five times since 2014, according to the report.
- Amid high rates of absenteeism, CPS students from low-income families are struggling to meet proficiency in core subjects. Just 14% of 3rd through 8th grade students from low-income families met proficiency standards in reading this spring. Only 9% met proficiency in math.
- The Chicago Teachers Union’s militant bargaining tactics, used too often by CTU leaders to get their demands met, caused students to miss more time in the classroom. CTU has walked out on students five times since 2012, with students missing more than three weeks of school.
“It’s essential that CPS address its growing levels of absenteeism,” said Mailee Smith, director of labor policy for the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute. “Studies show chronic absenteeism places students at a higher risk of dropping out, and low-income students are particularly susceptible to the trend. Rather than focusing on striking, the Chicago Teachers Union could set an example for students by telling its members to put down their picket signs and support the most vulnerable in their classrooms.”
To read more about Chicago Public Schools, visit illin.is/absentee.
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