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With Nearly 8 Million Students Chronically Absent From School Each Year, 36 States Set Out to Tackle the Problem in New Federal Education Plans. Will It Make a Difference?

Every school day, teachers across the country take attendance. And every year, about 16 percent of students miss at least 15 of those days. So-called “chronic absenteeism” has festered into what the U.S. Department of Education has branded a national crisis.

Nearly 8 million K-12 students missed 15 or more days of school in 2015-16 — a marked increase from the 6.8 million estimated in 2013-14, when the federal Office for Civil Rights began tracking the data. It’s not a short-term problem, either: Various research links chronic absences with poor academic performance, delayed graduation, and higher dropout rates.