While Alabama’s overall chronic absenteeism rate of 12.5% is lower than the national average of 13.1%, it is still higher than 17 other states, including Texas (11.8%), Arkansas (11.6%), New York (11.2%), Georgia (11.1%), South Carolina (8.5%), and Florida (4.5%). Florida has the lowest rate in the country.
485 of the 1,397 Alabama schools in the data release exceed that average rate, but 165 schools reported that zero students missed 15 or more days of school.
In Alabama, white students had a higher rate (13.6%) than African-American students (11.4%), but American Indian and Alaska Natives and students identifying themselves as two or more races combined had the highest rate in Alabama at 16.6%.
And it isn’t just student absences that are counted in this data. The number of teachers absent from school more than ten days are also included. Teacher absences due to field trips or professional development or other administrator-approved absences are not counted as absences.
Nearly one in three, or 14,914 of Alabama’s 47,203 teachers missed more than ten days of school during 2013-2014. The national figures haven’t yet been tallied, so it’s unclear where the 31.6% teacher absenteeism rate lands Alabama’s teachers. Here’s more on why teacher absentee rates matter.
The USDOE released the 2013-2014 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) on Tuesday. It holds a treasure trove of information about our public schools. Data on more than 95,000 schools and 50 million students is collected.
That information can be very useful to school officials who use it to inform decisions about how best to improve educational opportunities.
During a press call about the CRDC release, USDOE Secretary John King said the data shows an urgent call to action. “Even the best teacher can’t be successful if students aren’t in class, and we’ve got work to do as a country on this issue,” he added.
A national conference highlighting the USDOE “Every Student, Every Day” initiative will be held later this week. The USDOE has released a toolkit for communities to reduce chronic absenteeism among students.
The Ad Council has launched an initiative, Absences Add Up, to help families improve school attendance.
Alabama law requires school districts provide a 180-day school year or the hourly equivalent of 1,080 instructional hours. School officials submitted the data directly to the USDOE.
Here’s a three-panel storyboard allowing you to view chronic student absenteeism rates, percentage of teachers missing more than ten days of school, and a table of the same information for Alabama’s schools. Hover over a school to find more.
The teacher absenteeism rate (where teachers missed more than ten days of school) was determined by using the number of “full-time equivalent” (FTE) teachers submitted as absent ten or more days of school divided by the number of FTEs reported at the school.
Attendance Works, a national organization working to reduce chronic absence by promoting awareness of the importance of attendance at school, has an informative web site full of information for all interested in reducing chronic absence.
UPDATE: The spreadsheet and data visualization were updated on June 12, 2016 at 9:15 p.m. to correct mismatched data among schools sharing the same name, specifically Central High School. There are five Central High Schools in Alabama, and some data was mismatched when aggregated various parts of the OCR data. We regret the error.