Across Washington, 16 percent of all students missed 18 or more school days last year.
Across Washington, nearly one in six students was chronically absent during the last school year, which put them at a greater risk of not graduating on time, according to newly released data from the state superintendent’s office.
That’s about 174,000 students in all who missed 18 or more full days of school, counting excused as well as unexcused absences.
American Indian/Alaska Native students, as a group, had the highest rate of chronic absenteeism, at 31 percent, followed by 25 percent of Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students. Black and Hispanic students were both at 18 percent, white students had a rate of 15 percent and Asian students had the lowest, at 9 percent.
Migrant, low-income and special education students all had higher rates of chronic absenteeism than the statewide percentage.
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In Seattle, about 11.5 percent of students were chronically absent, which put the school district in the lower third of all districts in the Puget Sound region and Washington. Around the Puget Sound region, Eatonville had the highest rate, at 32 percent, while Issaquah had the lowest, at 6 percent.
Chronic absenteeism differs from chronic truancy, which is multiple unexcused absences. Some districts have tried to tackle chronic truancy with community truancy boards, but of the state’s 295 school districts, 70 percent have no such programs.
To address that gap, the state Senate passed a bill earlier this week that would require all school districts to establish a community truancy board by the start of the 2017-2018 school year. The measure now heads to the House.