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Chronic Absenteeism Advisory Council releases final report 


This news story was published on December 5, 2016.
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educationDES MOINES – The Iowa Chronic Absenteeism Advisory Council last week approved recommendations to help school districts and their communities improve the attendance of students who miss 10 percent or more of the school year. Chronically absent students are less likely to be proficient in reading by the end of third grade, according to an analysis by the Child & Family Policy Center. Missing a lot of school may limit their academic success and the careers they are prepared to pursue as adults.

Gov. Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced plans to create the Council during the April 2016 Future Ready Iowa Summit, which began a statewide conversation about how to close the skills gap, one of the biggest challenges Iowa faces. An average 8.3 percent of Iowa public school students were chronically absent in the 2015-16 school year, reports the Iowa Department of Education. The Council began meeting in August and held its fourth and final meeting on Nov. 28.

The Council’s recommendations are:

1. Establish a uniform way to define and track chronic absenteeism, including adopting a statewide definition of chronic absenteeism: Missing 10 percent or more of school for any reason, excused or unexcused.
2. Launch a statewide campaign to raise awareness about the importance of good attendance and the impact of chronic absenteeism on students’ success.
3. Create a statewide mechanism for disseminating best practices and resources.
4. Establish an advisory group through the Iowa Department of Education to explore how to better collaborate across systems and with families to reduce chronic absenteeism.

“In an increasingly knowledge-based economy, missing a lot of school puts students at a disadvantage that is difficult to overcome,” said Branstad. “Doing more to eliminate chronic absenteeism is one important step as Iowans work together to give all children a globally competitive education. We appreciate the Council’s work and look forward to considering its recommendations.”

“It is critical high school graduates today are prepared for college or career training,” said Reynolds, who co-chairs the Future Ready Iowa Alliance, which is developing strategies to meet the goal of 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce having education or training beyond high school by the year 2025. “Improving attendance is essential so all students have the opportunities they deserve to succeed.”

The Council’s report can be found here.

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