NBC News3: Chronic Absenteeism at Nevada Public Schools 29_nbc3_chronic_absenteeism

April 19, 2024 01:36 PM


1. What’s the definition of chronically absent and what is the percentage of students in Nevada schools who are chronically absent?


A: A student is chronically absent when they missed 10% of the school year or more.


There are lots of reasons a child would stay home from school — finances and housing instability, illness, transportation issues, anxiety, depression, bullying and generally feeling unwelcome at school.


We talked about these numbers last year and unfortunately the newest numbers aren’t much better.


In 2018 and 2019, 20% and 19% of students in Nevada were chronically absent, through the spring of 2020. The pandemic hit, and in 2021, 31% of students and 36% in 2022, were chronically absent.


The most recent numbers for 2023 were still 35% of students.


This is according to a nationwide study done by American Enterprise Institute, a public policy research think tank.


The author of the study, deemed, “Long Covid for public schools,” said the pandemic increased chronic absenteeism but what is worrisome is that even after the pandemic subsided drastically, the elevated rates of chronic absenteeism fell very little.



2. How does Nevada’s high rate compare to the rest of the country?



A: In 2023, Nevada had the 5th highest rate of chronic absenteeism, the same as the year before. 35% of students, its as high as 43 in Alaska and 44 in DC, while the national average is 26%. Before the pandemic, it was 15%.


Pandemic closures and remote learning set students back, test scores show that, and the social and emotional fallout is seen in numerous indicators, and the behavioral challenges seen following the return to in-person schooling have made life difficult on students, teachers, and entire school communities learning loss.


The report says chronic absenteeism is likely public schools’ greatest post-pandemic challenge.



3. How does Nevada’s per-pupil spending come into play?


A: Nevada’s status of worse-than-the-national-average when it comes to students being absent is concerning, especially since it’s not its only bad grade.


Per pupil spending in Nevada is the fifth lowest in the country at $11,400 per student.


The national average is about $16,131, while the highest-funded states — New York, Vermont, D.C. Connecticut, New Jersey and a few more northeast states — are above $20,000.


Nevada was the only state in the country to get an “F” in each of three categories of funding: funding level, funding distribution and funding effort, according to Education Law Center’s most recent rankings from December.


Gov. Joseph Lombardo’s $2 billion education spending plan increases per-pupil spending by about $2,000.


So we could see that per pupil spending rise to $13,400 but it’s still almost $3,000 below the national average.


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