A recent speaker at the October 24th, 2023 Leon County School Board brought up the issue of student absenteeism.
The speaker explained that there are over 12,000 students in Leon County public schools who are missing weeks of school. Her recommendations to the Board were to examine how policy and practices affect student attendance, consider implementing a community wide campaign that raises awareness about chronic absence and to encourage schools to co-develop solutions with students and families.
Board Member Marcus Nicolas noted he was curious how chronic absence is defined and how it could affect academic achievement. Chair Alva Smith then incorporated attendance to be part of a workshop topic.
Tallahassee Reports looked into the claim and found that the Florida Department of Health publishes data from the Florida Department of Education on absenteeism.
Provided below is graph of the percentage of students that were absent more than 21 days from K-12 school for Leon County and the state of Florida.
Keep in mind that the Leon County school system has approximately 33,000 students.
The graph shows that in 2022 approximately 22.5% of LCS student missed more than 21 days of school. This translates to approximately 7,400 students.
The graph shows that the absenteeism rate shot up in Leon County in 2020, as in other school districts across Florida.
The graph also notes that LCS was following state trends from 2010 through 2017. However, after 2017, the absenteeism rate increased from 9% to just under 15% in 2020. During this period, the LCS rate of absenteeism passed the overall state levels.