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Although state education officials have trumpeted the success of a program targeting chronic absenteeism, the problem is still at critical levels, especially among students without high needs.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, chronic absenteeism has doubled in Connecticut, from 12.2% in 2019-20 (until mid-March, when nationwide lockdowns began) to over 25% at the beginning of the current academic year, according to state data.
Chronic absenteeism is defined as a student missing 10% of in-class instruction time, which is 18 days of a 180-day academic calendar. At this point in the 2022-23 school year, a student who has already missed around six days of school is considered chronically absent.
This academic year, chronic absenteeism has declined among most “high needs” students, data show — meaning that students who are English learners, students with disabilities, those who receive free lunches or those who are experiencing homelessness are coming back to the classroom, though nowhere near pre-pandemic percentages.
Read more: Chronic absenteeism continues to rise in CT