Alaska School Districts Address Chronic Absenteeism Spike with Task Forces and Solutions

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Alaska School Districts Grapple with Chronic Absenteeism Crisis

  • Most school districts in Alaska saw a spike in chronic absenteeism during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Alaska reported the highest rate of chronic absenteeism in the nation by 2021-22
  • Chronic absenteeism has been linked to poor academic outcomes, including a risk of dropping out and poorer math and reading skills
  • Juneau School District saw a slight decline in absenteeism last school year, but rates were still well below pre-pandemic averages
  • With nation’s highest rate of chronic absenteeism, Alaska school districts explore causes — and solutions

    Alaska’s education commissioner, Deena Bishop, expressed concern over the lasting impacts of the pandemic on students’ sense of connection to their school communities and to learning. She believes that the rise in absenteeism is a result of a change in routines brought on by the pandemic, when students were kept at home much more as part of virus mitigation efforts.

    The Impact of Remote Learning

    Bishop described the sense that students may not have to be present and engaged to learn and do school, leading to a disconnection among students. Chronic absenteeism has been a national metric, defined as students missing an average of two or more days of school each month, or more than 10% of the school year.

    Efforts to Address Chronic Absenteeism

    In response to the crisis, Juneau School District superintendent Frank Hauser set up an attendance task force to address chronic absenteeism. While there has been a slight decline in absenteeism districtwide, rates are still well below pre-pandemic averages.

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