Fresno Unified addresses chronic absenteeism among students

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- New attendance data is helping local districts address a big problem - chronic absenteeism.

Fresno Unified is tracking attendance and students that are chronically absent.

"Our foster youth, our homeless youth, students with disabilities, our African American students, those are groups that have historically higher rates of chronic absence," said Ambra O'Connor with Fresno Unified School District.

Chronic absenteeism means a student is missing 10% of school or more and distance learning is playing a part. One example, over 65% of homeless youth are chronically absent.

"In Fresno Unified we currently have 300 homeless students, so these are students that may be residing in shelters they may be in motels," said O'Connor.

While high schoolers may have no issues logging online, that's not always the case for the little ones.

"We're seeing improvement in our upper grades, but the struggle is our young learners," continued O'Connor.

The district's littlest learners struggle too. Out of the over 12,000 students chronically absent, over 8,500 are elementary students.

"Kindergarten and first grade are where we're seeing the highest rate," said O'Connor.

Thanks to careful tracking, the district is able to determine which students need the most help and address it, making roughly 600 home visits a week right now.

"We're going out, we're trying to find what is the issues that keepings students from attending," continued O'Connor. "Maybe it's a device that needs repair or there are technical issues."

Numbers are improving though. In the second week of school, almost 5% of students couldn't access due to connectivity issues. Now that number is less than 1%.

For a look at the numbers visit the Department of Educations website or you can search here.
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