Albany, NY — Most New York City high school seniors missed at least 18 days of school last year, according to a new research report published by the Empire Center for Public Policy.

The report, School’s Out Forever: Truancy in New York City Reaches New Heights, details alarming truancy trends in New York City’s public schools, finding 40 percent of students were chronically absent, or missed at least 10 percent of school days.

In the Bronx, report author and Empire Center adjunct fellow Ian Kingsbury found about four in 30 children are missing each day, with closer to 3 in 30 missing citywide. The report breaks out average daily attendance and chronic absenteeism data by grade level, demographic group and borough, providing an in-depth look at who is attending school in New York—and who is chronically absent.

“Student absenteeism has become significantly worse in schools in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and while it’s difficult to measure the exact impact on student learning, it is clear that missed school is an undesirable outcome,” said Kingsbury. “Addressing this chronic issue first requires honestly identifying the problem. Now that we know the numbers, hopefully school leaders will take action and work to bring kids back to school.”

Absenteeism in New York City was worse than the national average before the pandemic, but the pandemic significantly exacerbated the issue.

The paper also looks at the correlation between higher school culture survey scores and absenteeism. School culture plays an important role in shaping patterns of student absenteeism overall; however, it appears to have played a relatively modest role in explaining variation across schools during the pandemic.

Read the full report here.

The Empire Center, based in Albany, is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to promoting policies that can make New York a better place to live, work and raise a family.

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