1 in 5 Chicago high school students absent during the first week of reopening
CHICAGO – Nearly one in five Chicago high school students were absent from in-person and virtual classes in the first week of the district’s long-awaited high school reopening, with black and Latino students missing at higher rates, according to data released Wednesday.
These figures highlight a disturbing trend: District officials argued that decline in attendance of black high school students was one of the main reasons for pushing for the reopening of school buildings in early 2021, but early data shows it continue to be racial disparities in school attendance.
Still, district officials said the first rounds of reopening data shows that as school buildings are open longer, attendance improves.
Overall, about 19 percent of students were absent, 70 percent of students were distance learning and 11 percent of the district’s 72,600 high school students were in school buildings the week of April 19, according to data released for the first. times on Wednesday’s board. Education meeting.
The numbers for absent students show obvious racial disparities: an average of 25.6% of black students and 19% of Latino students were absent that week, compared to 10% of white high school students. The school district is predominantly black and Latino.
Calculating average daily attendance is a complicated business. District numbers reflect average attendance over the entire week because, as part of Chicago’s Three-Grade High School reopening schedule, all Chicago High School students learn virtually at least one day a week. Of the open secondary schools, 37 schools brought in students four days a week, and 50 have students coming in two shifts of two days each. No school brought back students just one day a week – an option for schools with the most returning students – but the most popular selectively enrolled high school in the district consider this.
Elementary and middle school students, whose buildings reopened as part of a hybrid model (or a full week for preschool and some special education students) earlier this year, saw higher attendance rates. high. District figures show that during the week of April 19, an average of 26 percent of students attended school in person, 67 percent were distant and 7.5 percent were absent.
The question of how best to engage absent students was urgent in Chicago since last spring. School principals have been on the front lines to find disengaged students, make repeated phone calls and, in some cases, even send staff to families’ homes. District officials also launched a $ 24 million trauma support program last month who, they say, will train existing school staff to better help struggling students.
In a press conference Wednesday ahead of the council meeting, and in public comments, parents and students called for increased investment in trauma-informed care and counselors for students.
“If you lack motivation, you are not going to be academically successful,” said Halima Ahmed, a 10th grade student from Sullivan High School in Rogers Park, who spoke at the board meeting. administration and asked the school district to spend part of its federal stimulus funds establishing mental health clinics in schools that would provide access to qualified therapists.
Catlyn, a Chicago Public School student and youth organizer with the ‘Cops out of CPS’ campaign, who spoke at a morning press conference of community groups calling for a say in how federal stimulus funds would be spent, said, “It is a reality that students find it difficult to be attentive and present in class.
Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.