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Chronic Absenteeism Is Most Severe in Poor Communities

The vast majority of the nation’s school districts struggle with students who are chronically absent, but the problem is especially concentrated in school systems that serve large numbers of poor students, a new analysis of federal data has found.

While 9 out of 10 school districts experience some chronic absenteeism, around half the 6.5 million students who were chronically absent in the 2013-14 school year were enrolled in just 4 percent of the nation’s districts, according to researchers Robert Balfanz and Hedy N. Chang.

Their analysis—”Preventing Missed Opportunity”—builds on nationwide chronic-absenteeism data released in June by the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights, which found that about 13 percent of all U.S. students missed three or more weeks of school in that year.