More than 119,000, or about 19%, of young people in Connecticut between the ages of 14 and 26 were “at risk” or “disconnected” in 2021-22, according to a new Dalio Education report released Wednesday morning.
The report, which compiled data from the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, Department of Children and Families, Department of Labor, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the state Department of Education, concluded that more than 63,000 young adults were disconnected and 56,000 students were at risk between 2021 and 2022.
The report defines “at risk” as high schoolers who had a low number of credits and were not on track to graduate on time and students struggling with other factors including chronic absenteeism or behavioral issues.
As schools across the state continue to deal with the effects of COVID-19, especially regarding chronic absenteeism and mental health, the report says the number of at-risk students has significantly increased, but the number of disconnected young people has relatively “stayed between 62,000 and 73,000” since at least 2015.
According to the report, data shows that “there was not a commensurate increase in students falling behind on credit attainment” since the pandemic, but that there may be a significant decline in graduation rates in years to come, which should be worrying to the state.
Disconnected and at-risk students were mainly concentrated in Connecticut’s largest cities, including Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Waterbury, Stamford, Danbury, Norwalk and New Britain, totaling about 21,640 young people on average through the last five years.
“These cities, among Connecticut’s 169 municipalities, constitute 40% of all at-risk and 36% of all disconnected young people in the state,” the report said, adding that rural parts of the state are also seeing higher concentrations of struggling youth. “Small towns of Sterling, Sprague and Salisbury have disconnection rates of 30%, 28% and 34% respectively.”