- After making strategic investments in improving attendance, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today released a District-wide attendance rate from the 2015-16 school year, hitting a District record of 93.4 percent attendance. The District’s attendance rates show a steady increase over time, and this increase marks a 0.2 percent rise, from 93.2 percent in the 2014-15 school year. The District’s attendance rate for the 2010-11 school year was 91.7 percent. Two-thirds of District schools showed improved attendance over the previous year.
Every tenth of a percentage point gained represents another hour of instruction time gained per student over the course of the year, meaning that the District gained the equivalent of two hours of instruction time for every CPS student.
“This year and every year, the City of Chicago comes together to remind students and families in every neighborhood of the importance of being in school prepared for learning on day one, and every school day after that,” Mayor Emanuel said. “Chicago’s students are making monumental progress in the classroom — with record-setting gains in math and reading, and more students graduating college-ready than ever before. To continue this progress, our goal this year is that every student arrives prepared for success on day one this fall.”
In recent years, CPS has made concerted investments to support schools in reducing truancy and improving attendance rates for students across the city. The District’s Pre-K through 12th grade strategy to improve attendance and reduce chronic absenteeism and chronic truancy includes:
- prioritizing good attendance for students in preschool and the primary grades so good habits are cultivated early on;
- improving data tools and reporting mechanisms for schools and networks;
- identifying students who are at risk of becoming chronically absent and truant with tailored interventions much sooner;
- increasing training to implement best practices uniformly across the district and increase collaboration between departments;
- providing a $1.9 million District attendance grant to improve attendance rates of schools that are in the bottom quartile and have the greatest need.
Increased attendance throughout the District means that students at all levels can take advantage of additional academic and programmatic investments, and helps contribute to CPS students’ landmark gains in freshman on-track rates, ACT scores, graduation rates, and college enrollment. To build on students’ academic momentum, the District recently announced more opportunities for CPS students to earn college credit and efforts to expand access to rigorous, high-quality coursework.
“As a former principal, I can say from experience that when students and their families prioritize school attendance, it translates directly into improved student achievement, and the research clearly shows that the more you come to school, the better you do,” said Chief Education Officer Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “The District’s efforts and focus on attendance are clearly paying off and our job as a District is to continue to help students remain in the classroom and remove barriers to regular attendance so that our students can continue to build on their academic success.”
During the 2012-13 school year, CPS developed a comprehensive attendance plan designed to increase student attendance over time. The plan called for collaboration between students, parents, school personnel, and the District to ensure that attendance expectations are met every year. Since its implementation, CPS has experienced a steady decrease in chronic absenteeism across the District. Chronic absenteeism, students who missed 18 or more excused or unexcused days during the school year, has decreased by 5.3 percentage points and chronic truancy, students who missed 9 or more unexcused absences, has decreased by 3.5 percentage points.
The District has also worked to reduce additional external barriers that inhibit students from attending school. Earlier this year, CPS revised its Homeless Children and Youth Policy policy after extensive community engagement with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. The updated policy helps to remove barriers to enrollment, attendance and retention faced by the District’s 20,000 homeless students and clarifies how services and supports can be delivered to students who need them.
In addition, the District’s new Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) will help educators identify early warning signs of not only academic difficulties, but external factors that may hinder academic achievement. By reducing the barriers that influence chronic absences and truancy rates, CPS students can remain in the classroom and benefit from the instructional time that will prepare them for their lives and careers beyond CPS.
CPS calculates attendance rates based on total school days enrolled compared to total school days attended. In 2015-16, CPS students attended 60,144,603days out of 64,367,292 total membership days, a rate of 93.4 percent. In 2014-15, CPS students attended 61,087,158 days out of 65,526,126 total membership days, a rate of 93.2 percent. In 2013-14, CPS students attended 61,474,474.5 days out of 66,004,078 total membership, a rate of 93.1 percent. This is the standard used by school districts across the country to calculate average student attendance rates.
Each year, CPS reminds its families of importance of a strong school attendance rate and the strong impact that it has on a student’s academic achievement. Research has shown that lower test scores, lower course grades, and high school dropout are linked to high levels of absenteeism early on. Better performance, better grades, higher achievement, and graduation all begin with students coming to school.
The 2015-16 attendance data is available at www.cps.edu/schooldata/pages/schooldata.aspx.