Report: Chronic absenteeism ‘truly a crisis’ in Arizona schools

Jan 12, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: Jan 17, 2023, 3:59 pm

(Photo by Christian Ender/Getty Images)...

(Photo by Christian Ender/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Ender/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — A new report sheds light on another way the pandemic disrupted learning for so many students in Arizona.

The report by the Helios Education Foundation finds 22% of students — or nearly 1 in 5 — were chronically absent in 2021, meaning they missed 18 or more school days. That’s higher than the typical 12%-14% reported during pre-pandemic school years.

“This issue of chronic absence and the broader lingering effects of COVID in so many other ways is I think fair to say truly a crisis,” Paul Luna, president and CEO of the Helios Education Foundation, said during a virtual media event Wednesday.

The report pointed to a wide range of reasons for students missing too much school during the pandemic, including factors related to quarantine, family health, finances and changing schools.

Luna said he is particularly concerned about how chronic absenteeism during the pandemic affected some students more than others.

Paul Perrault, senior vice president of community impact and learning for the Helios Education Foundation, pointed out Native Americans were among the most affected.

“Native American students were chronically absent a lot even before the pandemic,” he told reporters Wednesday. “It was exacerbated to the point where during the pandemic almost 1 out of every 2 Native Americans were chronically absent.”

Students who qualify for free or reduced lunch, English language learners, Latino students and African American students were also more strongly impacted by chronic absenteeism during the pandemic than their peers, according to the report.

Perrault noted this is concerning given these same students already have large opportunity gaps in reading, math, high school graduation rates and college going rates compared to their peers.

“If we start seeing more absences in school, we’re only going to see those gaps get bigger — and that’s a big concern,” Perrault said.

According to the report, chronic absenteeism is linked with diminished learning outcomes. It’s an issue that has been affecting many students for years in Arizona. But as Luna pointed out, the pandemic made it worse.

“There’s no way now to turn away from this spotlight that has shined on the challenges that need to be addressed,” he said, adding he hopes the report findings will help identify where targeted interventions and supports are needed.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Deshan Begay, 24, was struck by a vehicle while walking when he didn't have the right of way, polic...

Man fatally struck while crossing I-10 access road at red light in Phoenix

Deshan Begay, 24, was crossing the I-10 westbound access road on Wednesday evening when a vehicle fatally struck him, Phoenix police said.

5 hours ago

Protesters in Phoenix shout as they join thousands marching around the Arizona state Capitol after ...

Associated Press

Abortion ruling supercharges Arizona to be an especially important swing state

A ruling this week instituting a near-total abortion ban supercharged Arizona's role, turning it into the most critical battleground.

6 hours ago

Preston Lord murder suspect Talyn Vigil posted bond and was released from jail on April 12, 2024. (...

Talyn Vigil, suspect in murder of Preston Lord, posts bonds and is released from jail

Talyn Vigil, one of seven suspects indicted in the murder of 16-year-old Preston Lord in Queen Creek, posted bond and was released from jail Friday, authorities said.

9 hours ago

Santokh "Sam" Singh went missing in Gilbert on April 12, 2024. (DPS Photo)...

Silver Alert issued for 79-year-old man who went missing in Gilbert

A Silver Alert was issued Friday for a 79-year-old man who went missing in Gilbert earlier in the day, authorities said.

9 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a Get Out The Vote rally ...

Associated Press

Trump pushes Arizona lawmakers to ‘remedy’ state abortion ruling that he says ‘went too far’

Donald Trump urged Arizona lawmakers on Friday to swiftly “remedy” the state court ruling allowing prosecutors to enforce an abortion ban.

10 hours ago

Runesha White, 22, is accused of stabbing a man in the back after he recorded a separate fight on A...

Woman arrested after fight leads to stabbing, shooting in Glendale

A woman was arrested and two people were hospitalized after a fight led to a stabbing and a shooting in Glendale on Wednesday night.

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Report: Chronic absenteeism ‘truly a crisis’ in Arizona schools