Michigan K-12 students are struggling with absenteeism

One solution to the problem of absenteeism is having after-school care at schools, says one local school reporter.

black and red sign that reads "welcome back" in front of a school building
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Beyond state House and Senate races, Democrats also had success staving off challenges from Conservative activists in several local school board races this election cycle. Only 48 of 121 candidates recommended by two major groups in Michigan supporting these candidates won office.

Still, newly elected school boards face a challenge that was not often discussed on the campaign trail: school attendance. While some candidates were focused on wedge issues centering around LGBTQ protections, books in libraries and the so-called “woke” ideology they claim threaten classrooms, the rise of chronic absenteeism is troubling.

In Michigan, hundreds of thousands of students miss at least 18 school days every year. These absences can have harmful results, including lower grades, higher college challenges and increased dropout rates.

“We’re talking about students falling behind in class, we’re talking about entire classrooms disrupted because some students are falling behind. The teacher now has to decide, ‘Do I work with those students, [or] do I work with the students who’ve been here the whole time?’ It is really disruptive.” — Koby Levin, reporter


Listen: Why students are falling behind in school attendance and what can be done about it.

 


Guest

Koby Levin is a reporter for ChalkBeat Detroit. He recently wrote the piece, “Not ‘present,’ and paying a steep cost: How pandemic recovery in Detroit and across Michigan hinges on getting kids to class.” He says the costs of absenteeism are “really, really steep.”

“We’re talking about students falling behind in class, we’re talking about entire classrooms disrupted because some students are falling behind. The teacher now has to decide, ‘Do I work with those students, [or] do I work with the students who’ve been here the whole time?’ It is really disruptive,” says Levin.

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