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Two years after Covid, most states doing better reporting attendance, study finds

Most states, including California, have improved their reports on students’ attendance at school, a significant leap forward after Covid disrupted attendance-taking nationwide, according to a study released this week by Attendance Works.

Forty-four of the 46 states that participated in the survey said they now require that schools take daily attendance for in-person instruction. That’s up from 31 states that required it last year, when many schools were either remote or operating in a hybrid model.

Regarding distance learning, 39 states currently require attendance-taking during long-term distance instruction, and 41 require it for short-term distance learning for students who are quarantined at home.

Nearly all student groups suffered from absenteeism during the pandemic, but Black, Latino and low-income students tended to miss more school and fall further behind academically, according to the report.

“States have an important role in guiding how schools and districts collect attendance and chronic absence data,” said Hedy Chang, executive director of Attendance Works. “Well-crafted state policy that requires taking attendance daily and monitoring chronic absence is essential. Efforts to support student recovery following challenges resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic are unlikely to have the desired results unless children and youth are present in school to benefit from the programming being offered.”