Study: A quarter of isle public schools have high rates of chronic absenteeism

Study: A quarter of isle public schools have high rates of chronic absenteeism

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than one-fourth of public schools in Hawaii have high or "extreme" rates of chronic absenteeism, according to a new national report.

That's higher than the national median, according to the analysis from Attendance Works, and comes as the state Education Department has set a goal to address chronic absenteeism at schools statewide.

Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 15 or more school days in a year.

In the report, schools were said to have a high rate of chronic absenteeism if 20 to 29 percent of students were gone for 15 days or more. Schools had "extreme" rates of chronic absenteeism if 30 percent or more of students were out for 15 days or more.

Overall, about 15 percent of all Hawaii public school students were chronically absent.

But at the school level, that figure varied widely.

In the 2016-17 school year, according to DOE figures, about 35 percent of students in the Nanakuli-Waianae complex of schools were chronically absent. In the Kau-Keaau-Pahoa complex, the number was 30 percent.

The complex with the lowest rate of chronic absenteeism was Aiea-Moanalua-Radford, with 9 percent.

The state Department of Education has acknowledged its struggle with chronic absenteeism and has set a goal to bring the rate down to 9 percent statewide by 2020.

It's also pointed out that chronic absenteeism is significantly higher in at-risk populations.

In the 2016-17 school year, about 25 percent of all special education students were chronically absent. Meanwhile, about one-fifth of all economically-disadvantaged students were absent 15 days or more.

The Attendance Works report ranked Hawaii in the middle of states for its rate of schools with high or extreme chronic absenteeism.

North Dakota had the lowest rate, with about 10 percent of schools with high or extreme chronic absenteeism. Alaska had the highest rate, with more than 60 percent. The national median — the number at which half of states were above and half below — was 24 percent.

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