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School Districts and Parents Encouraged to Improve Student Attendance Rates

LANSING – Student attendance in Michigan schools dropped to just under 89% in the 2021-22 school year, down from 93% in the 2019-20 school year, the Michigan Department of Education announced today.

In addition, the statewide rate for students deemed “chronically absent” nearly doubled to just over 38% compared to approximately 20% for the previous four years. Chronically absent is defined as students who missed 10 percent or more of possible days during the scheduled school year. A student who attends fewer than 90% of scheduled school days is considered chronically absent by this federal definition.

“These data are consistent with what we have already known to be true during the past two years—students have received less instruction during the pandemic,” said State Superintendent Michael F. Rice, Ph.D.  “Students need more instructional time, especially vulnerable students such as those who are economically disadvantaged, students with disabilities, and English learners.”

In addition to an overall decrease in the student attendance rate in Michigan, the overall attendance rate for economically disadvantaged students was 86% in 2021-22, which is 6.1% lower than for non-economically disadvantaged students. The gap between economically disadvantaged students and non-economically disadvantaged students was 3.9% in 2019-20. Moreover, half of the economically disadvantaged students were deemed to be chronically absent during the 2021-22 school year compared to 29% in 2019-20.

While statewide attendance rates have declined, some districts had improved attendance rates for the 2021-22 school year. For example, Michigan’s largest district, Detroit Public Schools Community District, improved its attendance rate for the third straight year, to nearly 90%, which is up from 85% in the 2019-20 school year. In addition, the percentage of Detroit students who were chronically absent fell to 30% after peaking at 70% during the 2017-18 school year. School attendance has been a primary focus for the district as it has created and implemented a district-wide attendance plan.

“As we are beginning the 2022-23 school year, I encourage parents and districts to work together to focus on student attendance so that they can make the best use of the time that is available to them for student instruction,” said Dr. Rice. “Time in school was too short prior to the pandemic, yet so essential to student achievement. Students need to be present in school to learn best and to address learning that remains unfinished.”

Student attendance data can be found at the MI School Data Website