By Josh Mitchell
Corinth Today News Editor
Chronic student absenteeism rates for the Corinth and Alcorn school districts were released Monday.
The Alcorn School District had a chronic student absenteeism rate of 14.5 percent, and the Corinth School District’s rate was 13.4 percent, the Mississippi Department of Education said.
The Alcorn School District had 3,457 students enrolled with 502 students chronically absent, the state report shows.
The Corinth School District had 2,887 students enrolled, and 387 were chronically absent.
A student is deemed chronically absent if he or she misses 10 percent or more of the school year due to excused or unexcused absences or suspensions, the department of education said.
Therefore, a student would be chronically absent if he or she missed 18 days or more of school during a 180-day school year.
Chronic absenteeism predicts lower levels of numeracy and literacy by third grade; class failure in middle school; higher rates of suspension; higher likelihood of high school dropout; and lower rates of college completion, research shows.
It can also lead to widening the achievement gap between low-income and minority students, the state department of education said.
Absenteeism by School
Chronic absenteeism rates by school in the Alcorn District in 2016-2017 were: Alcorn Central Elementary, 14.2 percent; Alcorn Central Middle, 14.2 percent; Alcorn Central High, 17.7 percent; Biggersville Elementary, 9 percent; Biggersville High, 23 percent; Kossuth Elementary, 15 percent; Kossuth Middle, 12.6 percent; and Kossuth High, 16.2 percent.
Rates for schools in the Corinth District were: Corinth Elementary, 13 percent; Corinth Middle, 18 percent; and Corinth High, 14.7 percent.
The chronic absenteeism rate statewide was 14.15 percent. Statewide, chronic absenteeism steadily increases starting in the seventh grade and peaks in the 12th grade with a rate of about 31 percent.
The Hollandale School District had the lowest rate at 3 percent in 2016-2017. The Forrest County Agricultural and Natchez-Adams school districts had the highest rates at about 26 percent each.
Chronic absenteeism is different from truancy.
Truancy is a criminal act and is defined as a student missing five or more days of school without an excuse. Under state law, suspensions are unexcused absences but are not counted in a district’s truancy rate. Suspensions are counted in the chronic absenteeism rate.
The state department of education has a “sense of urgency” to address chronic absenteeism. School districts were provided with a list of suggestions to address the issue. Some examples include analyzing suspensions and absences by grade, race and gender and starting school attendance campaigns.
School attendance officers can also address the problem in a number of ways such as launching prevention initiatives.
Parental involvement is “crucial” in addressing the issue, the department of education said.