Chronic absenteeism has dropped in Mississippi public schools, according to the Mississippi Department of Education’s (MDE) most recent school and district data report.
The report shows that 23.9 percent of public school students in the state were chronically absent in 2022-23, a decrease from 28 percent in 2021-22.
The MDE defines chronic absenteeism as missing 10 percent — or 18 days — of the school year for any reason, which includes excused and unexcused absences and suspensions.
During the 2022-23 school year, 108,310 of Mississippi public school students were chronically absent compared to 128,275 students in 2021-22.
The rates steadily decreased for all K-12 grades in 2022-23, with kindergarten having the highest chronic absenteeism rate in K-5 schools at 26.4 percent.
The chronic absenteeism rate for grades 6-8 was highest in grade 8 at 25.4 percent and highest in grades 9-12 in grade 12 at 39.5 percent.
“Seeing Mississippi’s chronic absenteeism rate decrease is a welcomed sign that more students are getting the instruction needed to succeed in the classroom,” Dr. Raymond Morgigno, interim state superintendent of education, said “The MDE encourages schools, districts, parents, and students to keep making regular attendance a priority.”
MDE first began reporting chronic absence data in 2016, with the 2021-22 school year bringing the highest rate at 28 percent.
In total, 128,275 Mississippi public school students were chronically absent, which is an increase of 33,186 students from the previous school year.
The COVID-19 pandemic is believed to be the major factor that led to higher 2021-22 state and national rates. Before the pandemic, Mississippi’s chronic absenteeism rate fell to 13 percent in 2018-19.
This month, MDE launched an attendance awareness campaign – Every School Day Counts – Attend to Achieve – to help combat chronic absenteeism in the state.
The campaign highlights the benefits of regular school attendance and emphasizes ways to prevent students from being chronically absent.
Click here to see the full chronic absenteeism report for Mississippi, which includes the highest and lowest rates among schools and districts.