Valley school district cuts absenteeism rate in half in less than a year

Apr 14, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: 7:11 am

(Facebook Photo/Buckeye Elementary School District)...

(Facebook Photo/Buckeye Elementary School District)

(Facebook Photo/Buckeye Elementary School District)

PHOENIX — Many schools were faced with high numbers of frequently absent students after the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Buckeye Elementary School District has reduced the amount of its chronic absenteeism.

During the 2021-22 school year, the district’s chronic absenteeism rate was 29.64% but has been reduced to 15% for April and was as low as 12.31% in March.

“We set a goal for ourselves to decrease (chronic absenteeism) by 5%, and we have exceeded that goal,” Buckeye Elementary School District Superintendent Kristi Wilson said.

Chronic absenteeism is when a student has missed more than 18 days of school.

Wilson attributes the improvements to a district-wide initiative working with families, staff and students to promote the importance of daily attendance.

Chad Lanese, the district’s assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, explains when schools returned from COVID-19, they wanted to re-establish healthy attendance habits, starting with creating a district truancy plan.

“The focus is communication to parents early and often, so they know how many absences their child has accrued. So, the more that we can track that on a regular basis and then communicate it to parents, we educate them on the importance of school and being in attendance,” Lanese said.

Lanese told KTAR News some of those conversations were as simple as not scheduling their child’s doctor’s appointment during school and emphasizing that every minute in class matters.

Another tool the district is using to lower numbers is an incentive program. Lanese said schools within the district share their attendance percentages weekly.

“Each of our schools has an incentive plan, and it can be on an individual level. A lot of times, it’s done by grade levels, and if they meet certain goals, then they have a celebration,” Lanese said.

According to Superintendent Wilson, student accountability is one important factor in the drop in chronic absenteeism.

“There’s a real concentrated effort to help our students take ownership of their own learning, and when that occurs, we find students sort of being the messenger to the parent as well, saying it’s really important I don’t miss school,” Wilson said.

The district said the goal when monitoring and tracking the attendance of students is to intervene early and often before it can become a persistent problem, along with identifying and targeting why a student is missing school.

We want to hear from you.

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

Arizona News

Car crashes into power pole in Phoenix, 2 critically injured...

Serena O'Sullivan

2 men in critical condition after car crashes into power pole in Phoenix

Two men are in critical condition after a car crash involving a power pole in Phoenix on Monday, officials said.

47 minutes ago

An image from Google Street View shows the third-party post office between a Jimmy John's and a Dun...

Southeast Valley shopping center temporarily evacuated after bomb threat

Multiple businesses at a southeast Valley shopping center were temporarily evacuated Monday because of a bomb threat, authorities said.

2 hours ago

A DUI suspect drove down a 200-foot embankment in Cottonwood before a second DUI suspect was arrest...

Arizona DUI suspect’s car careens down 200-foot embankment before 2nd DUI suspect arrested

A DUI suspect drove down a 200-foot embankment in Arizona on Saturday morning before another DUI suspect attempted to evade police at the crash area, authorities said.

3 hours ago

Split panel image of the front of an Albertsons grocery store on the left and a Kroger plastic bag ...

Kevin Stone

Arizona joins federal lawsuit to block merger of grocery giants Kroger and Albertsons

Arizona is part of a federal lawsuit filed Monday to block the controversial merger of Kroger and Albertsons, two of the nation’s largest grocers.

4 hours ago

The eastbound Loop 202 South Mountain freeway was closed in Phoenix on Feb. 26, 2024, for a fatal c...

Eastbound Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway reopens in Phoenix after fatal wrong-way crash

The eastbound Loop 202 South Mountain freeway reopened in Phoenix after a fatal wrong-way crash shut down traffic on Monday, officials said.

5 hours ago


KTAR Video

Video: Congress says border issue is a crisis, but what took so long for both sides of the aisle to agree?

Biden’s border bill has yet to pass through the Senate to even reach the House of Representatives, yet both sides of the aisle agree that the immigration issue at the U.S.-Mexico border is now a crisis. Arizona Rep. Debbie Lasko joined The Mike Broomhead show to weigh in. Video: Jeremy Schnell and Felisa Cárdenas/KTAR News

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Valley school district cuts absenteeism rate in half in less than a year