LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Does chronic absenteeism affect a student's long term success?

We went to verify and we used three sources: Brady Elementary School’s principal Tyrone Harris; Angela Duran, the Director of Arkansas's Campaign for Grade Level Learning; And the U.S. Department of Education.

What we found was alarming. First, all sources define chronic absenteeism as 18 or more missed days of school each school year.

That is equal to just two missed days each month which doesn't seem like a lot. But educators and researchers said it is critical to academic learning, especially in the early years. And they verify that yes, indeed chronic absenteeism affects a student's success, in the short and long term.

“If you are chronically absent in the early grades it then becomes a predictor of how well you'll perform in middle school. And it significantly increases, if you’re still chronically absent at middle school, it significantly increases the likelihood a child will drop out of high school," said Duran.

We also found in Arkansas in 2014, 12 percent of public school kindergarten through 3rd graders were chronically absent. That number is more than 17 thousand students.

According to the Arkansas Campaign for Grade Level Learning, those students are less likely to read proficiently by the end of third grade. The U.S. Department of Education said absences add up and missing even a couple of days a month can mean the difference between dropping out and graduating on time. Brady Elementary School Principal Tyrone Harris said it is definitely a problem and he is working to find solutions.

“We are working to make sure we communicate with parents how important it is that their child is at school every day and on time and the loss of instruction that occurs when they're not at school,” said Harris.

The U.S. Education Department also said nearly half of parents underestimate the harm of school absences.

Principal Harris said he understands there are illnesses and issues out of your control, but there's a lot you can do to fix this problem like keeping an attendance chart at home, making sure kids are on a regular sleep schedule, and even laying out clothes and back packs the night before.

It could mean the difference in your child's success. Also, the state stepped in to help. In 2018, districts must track and report chronic absenteeism to the state department of education to help cut down on the problem.

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