Ohio to Address Chronic Absenteeism

The Ohio State Board of Education is working on a model policy to ensure less students miss school. The state has a new focus on chronic absenteeism.

Chronic absenteeism is not the same as attendance. A student who is chronically absent misses 10 percent or more of the school year—more than three weeks.

The rate across Ohio is nearly 16 percent. Cleveland Metropolitan School district has a 29 percent rate, in Lorain it’s 24.1 percent, and in Akron it’s around 19 percent.

In the last legislative session, Ohio lawmakers passed a law that decriminalizes truancy and asks schools to intervene in some of the causes that keep kids out of school. Simultaneously, the state’s plan to conform to federal education law calls for districts to bring chronic absenteeism rates to 5 percent.

The Ohio Department of Education’s Chris Woolard says districts need customized plans.

“It starts with understanding the needs of your students in your community. And then, based on that, working with various agencies—whether it’s health agencies, non-profits, housing agencies—to start to address some of those needs and to get kids in school,” says Woolard.

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