How to Stop Students from Skipping School

Aug 16, 2016

A 30-member advisory council looking into chronic absenteeism in Iowa schools held its first meeting Tuesday. The problem of students missing class is especially prevalent in the early grades.

The Chronic Absenteeism Advisory Council begins its first meeting by listening to Ryan Wise, the director of the Iowa Department of Education.
Credit Rob Dillard

Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10 percent or more of school days. A report issued in April by the Child and Family Policy Center indicates nine percent of Iowa’s kindergartners fit this pattern. A special assistant for education in the governor’s office, Linda Fandel, says this leaves them far behind when it comes to reading.

“We’re focusing on students in kindergarten through third grade because kids who miss a lot of school in those grades often have more trouble learning to read and we want to establish good attendance habits early,” she says.

Fandel says a large portion of Iowa students are not reading proficient by the end of third grade.

“By the end of third grade, nearly 25 percent of students weren’t reading proficiently in the 2014-15 school year," she says. "That’s been a fairly consistent pattern.”

The Chronic Absenteeism Advisory Council is expected to make its recommendations in November.