Chronic absenteeism has surged across the country since the pandemic, with more than one out of four students missing at least 18 days of school a year. That’s more than three lost weeks of instruction a year for more than 10 million school children. An even higher percentage of poor students, more than one out of three, are chronically absent.

Nat Malkus, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, calls chronic absenteeism – not learning loss – “the greatest challenge for public schools.” At a Feb. 8, 2024 panel discussion, Malkus said, “It’s the primary problem because until we do something about that, academic recovery from the pandemic, which is significant, is a pipe dream.”

One district in the Southeast tried to tackle its post-pandemic surge in absenteeism with a computer dashboard that tracks student data and highlights which students are in trouble or heading toward trouble. Called an early warning system, tracking student data this way has become common at schools around the country.  (I’m not identifying the district because a researcher who studied its efforts to boost attendance agreed to keep it anonymous in exchange for sharing the outcomes with the public.)

Read the full article about tracking student data for chronic absenteeism by Jill Barshay at The Hechinger Report .