The Statistical Impact of the Pandemic on Student Absenteeism

Child in Lonely Classroom

The most current statistics on student absenteeism reveal significant challenges schools face in ensuring consistent attendance. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound negative impact on student socio-emotional and behavioral development.

Eighty-seven percent of public schools reported that the pandemic has negatively impacted student socio-emotional development during the 2021–22 school year. This environment has led to increased incidents of classroom disruptions, acts of disrespect towards teachers and staff, and prohibited use of electronic devices.

Additionally, chronic absenteeism among students has risen, with 72 percent of U.S. public schools reporting an increase in chronic absenteeism compared to a typical school year prior to the pandemic. The average percent of chronically absent students during the 2021-22 school year was 17 percent​

​.A report by Education Week highlights that the proportion of students attending schools with high or extreme rates of chronic absenteeism more than doubled from 26 percent in the 2017-18 school year to 66 percent in the 2021-22 school year.

Early state data from the 2022-23 school year suggest only modest improvement since then, with a nationwide chronic absenteeism rate of 29.7 percent, or nearly 14.7 million students, in the 2021-22 school year.

Preliminary data for the 2022-23 school year from 11 states showed a combined chronic absenteeism rate of 27.8 percent, down from 30 percent the previous year​

​Despite some states showing signs of rebounding attendance rates, challenges persist. Fifteen states reported data on chronic absenteeism for the 2022-23 school year, with a majority seeing rates drop by five percentage points or fewer.

Michigan experienced the most dramatic decline, from 38.5 percent to 30.8 percent, yet this was still not enough to return to pre-pandemic levels. Louisiana, however, saw its chronic absenteeism rate grow from 19.4 percent in 2021-22 to 23.3 percent in 2022-23​

​.These statistics underscore the ongoing impact of the pandemic on student attendance and highlight the need for comprehensive strategies to engage students and improve attendance rates across the United States.