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State Attendance and Absenteeism Rates Improve in 2022-23 School Year

LANSING – The statewide student attendance and absenteeism rates improved in the 2022-23 school year, according to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and the Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI).

The attendance rate for the 2022-23 school year was 90.5% compared to 88.8% in the 2021-22 school year.

The percent of students recognized as being chronically absent went from 38.5% in the 2021-22 school year to 30.8% last year.

“As the pandemic waned, attendance rates improved, and chronic absenteeism declined significantly,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “That said, we have a great deal of work still to do in our local schools on this important, multi-faceted issue.”

Both the 2022-23 chronic absenteeism and attendance rates are not what they were pre-pandemic. The chronic absenteeism rate in the 2018-19 school year was 19.7% and the statewide attendance rate for that year was 93.1%.

Michigan uses the federal definition of chronic absenteeism: students who were enrolled in a district/school for at least 10 consecutive days are considered "chronically absent" if they missed 10 percent or more of the possible scheduled days.

In a presentation today to the State Board of Education, CEPI Executive Director Tom Howell noted that a single absence can be the difference between a so-called chronically absent student and peers who are not chronically absent. Howell said a student who is enrolled for 180 days and attends school for 163 days is NOT chronically absent, while another student who may attend school 162 days IS labeled chronically absent.

Dr. Rice said that attendance and chronic absenteeism issues are not just the result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve had attendance and chronic absenteeism issues across the state and country for many years,” Dr. Rice said. “Pre-pandemic, these issues were a function of many factors beyond normal illnesses and other typical life events: mental health challenges, older siblings taking care of young siblings, and some level of student disengagement. These issues continued through the pandemic, along with an exacerbated teacher and support staff shortage.”

In the presentation with Director Howell before the State Board of Education, Dr. Delsa Chapman, deputy superintendent for the Division of Educator, Student, and School Supports, noted MDE’s work with local and intermediate school district partners to help address student engagement, student mental health issues, academic supports, and the removal of barriers to attendance for students at greater risk of chronic absenteeism.

In her presentation to the State Board of Education, Dr. Chapman highlighted Michigan’s Multi-Tiered System of Support (MiMTSS) and Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System (EWIMS) as two initiatives upon which MDE has embarked with local school districts to help identify and support the needs of schools and students.

“Students strive and thrive when caring educators and support staff are consistent in not only imparting knowledge to students, but also intentionally ensuring that they are connected and have a sense of belonging at school,” Dr. Chapman said. “Students naturally yearn to learn. To improve student attendance in districts across Michigan, it will take entire school communities to engage them though a holistic approach.”

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