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About the Data - Attendance

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Overview

Students who attend school regularly are more likely to succeed in school and careers. Missing too many days of school and falling behind are often reported by students as reasons for dropping out. Attendance rates for students enrolled in Wisconsin public schools are available on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Website.

Where to Find Data about Attendance
School Years  WISEdash   School District 
 Performance Report 
 WINSS Historical 
 Data Files 
Beginning with 2007-08 X X --
2005-06 through 2006-07 X -- --
1996-07 through 2004-05 -- -- X

WISEdash is DPI's primary data analysis portal and contains the most current and most complete range of data about attendance. WINSS Data Analysis was DPI's primary public data portal for attendance information until Fall 2013 when more recent years of WINSS data were migrated to WISEdash.

Attendance is reported annually for all public schools and districts statewide as part of the School District Performance Report (SDPR). (Attendance information is also included as part of Wisconsin's Accountability Report Cards; see About Wisconsin Accountability.) Below you will find detailed background information, definitions, and related links to facilitate use and appropriate interpretation of student attendance data on the DPI Website. Unless otherwise indicated, all information about WISEdash data on this page is about the Certified Data View, the default WISEdash Data View.


Cautions

  1. In 2013-14, guidance regarding counting of attendance days changed. Pre- and post-2013-14 attendance rates should be compared with this change in mind. See Attendance Data Collection and Reporting for details.
  2. In 2004-05, the School Performance Report (SPR) Collection was replaced by the Individual Student Enrollment System (ISES) as the source of attendance data. 2004-05 data should be interpreted with caution for the following reasons:
    • 2004-05 was a year of transition to a new attendance data collection, and as a result 2004-05 attendance data may not be comprehensive.
    • Major changes were made in the way data were submitted in 2004-05, and the criteria for counting attendance days were made more explicit. Increases and decreases in attendance rates from 2003-04 to 2004-05 may to some extent be due to changes in the way the data were collected, so it may not always reflect actual increases or decreases in attendance rates. For more information see Data Sources below.

Definitions of Key Terms

For definitions, see the WISEdash Glossary (includes terms used in SDPR and in WINSS files)

For more details and descriptions of atypical attendance situations, see Attendance Collection and Reporting.


Calculating Rates

Attendance Rate: Sum of actual attendance days as a percentage of the sum of possible attendance days. Sums include all students enrolled at any time during the school term. For a student group, school, or district, the attendance rate is the percentage of students in the group, school, or district in attendance on a typical school day.

Enrollment counts are provided in attendance rate reports for background information purposes only and are not used in calculating attendance rates.

  • In WISEdash, these counts include any student who was enrolled at any time during the school term without regard to dates of enrollment. Any student who changes schools, districts, or grades during a school year would be counted as one student in the "student count" for each of those schools/districts/grades. These counts are sometimes called "Any Enrollment."
  • In SDPR and WINSS, these counts include students enrolled as of the 3rd Friday of September. These counts are sometimes called "Fall Enrollment."

Except in very rare situations, e.g., as those involving temporary expulsion, all students included in these enrollment counts are expected to have non-zero possible/actual days of attendance.


Data Changes Over Time

  • 1996-97 through 2003-04. Attendance data were collected at the school level by grade level, gender, and race/ethnicity as part of the School Performance Report collection.
  • 2004-05 and beyond. Attendance data and a wide range of demographic data are collected at the student level as part of the Individual Student Enrollment System (ISES). Reporting expanded to include attendance by economic, disability, and English language proficiency status. The criteria for counting attendance days was made more explicit.
  • 2013-14 and beyond. Guidance for counting attendance days changed beginning with submission of ISES attendance data for the 2013-14 school year. See Attendance Data Collection and Reporting for details about this change.

Data Sources

Actual and Possible Days of Attendance

  • Beginning with 2004-05, actual/possible attendance days are based on ISES Year End (YE) records.
  • Prior to 2004-05, actual/possible attendance days were based on the SPR collection.

Enrollment

  • WISEdash uses ISES YE records to count any student who was enrolled at any time during the school term without regard to dates of enrollment.
  • Beginning with 2004-05, WINSS and the SDPR use enrollment counts from ISES Count Date (3rd Friday of September) records. See cautions about the 2004-05 ISES enrollment data.
  • Prior to 2004-05, WINSS enrollment counts came from the Fall Enrollment Collection (PI-1290).

Demographics (attendance days and enrollment)

  • WISEdash demographics come from ISES YE records. The student's end-of-year district record is used for district and school summaries and the student's end-of-year state record is used for state summaries. The end-of-year record is the record that includes the student's school term completion date or the date on which the student exited the district/state midterm.
  • WINSS Historical Data Files use these data sources:
    • Beginning in 2004-05, ISES YE records for attendance days and ISES Count Date (3rd Friday of September) for enrollment.
    • Prior to 2004-05, SPR collection for attendance days and PI-1290 for enrollment.

Notes about Data Sources

  • ISES YE records includes cumulative data for the entire school term and student status/outcome data as of the end of the school term.
  • In each set of YE records for a school term, there is one YE record for each school enrollment period for each student. Most students have only one record. Mobile students will have multiple records, one for each enrollment period in each school.
  • For each school term, one record for each student/district combo is identified as the student's end-of-year record for that district. For mobile students this represents the school enrollment period during which the student completed the school term. If the student did not complete the school term in that district, then the most recent record for the student in that district is the end-of-year record. Statewide end-of-year records are identified using a similar process.

The table below summarizes difference in data sources across DPI public data tools/reports.

Attendance Data Sources by Data Tool/Report
Data Element WISEdash (Certified Data View) School District Performance Report WINSS Historical Data Files
District/School ISES YE records, accountable district/school is used Same as WISEdash Same as WISEdash
Possible and Actual Days of Attendance ISES YE records ISES YE records Beginning in 2004-05, ISES YE records; before 2004-05, SPR collection
Enrollment ISES YE records (count of students enrolled at any time during the school term) ISES Count Date (3rd Friday of September) records Beginning in 2004-05, ISES Count Date (3rd Friday of September) records; before 2004-05, PI-1290 Fall Enrollment collection
Demographics ISES end-of-year records (district or state depending on the level of the summary) NA Beginning in 2004-05, ISES YE records for attendance data and ISES Count Date (3rd Friday of September) records for enrollment data; before 2004-05, SPR collection for attendance data and PI-1290 data for enrollment

Frequently Asked Questions about Attendance Data

  1. How long does it take for attendance data to become available in WISEdash after the end of the most recent school year?

    Attendance data in WISEdash is taken exclusively from the ISES YE collection. The lag time between the end of a school year and the submission, correction, and finalization of ISES YE data for that school year is typically 7-8 months. Therefore, results for the prior school year typically become available in WISEdash during the first quarter of the following calendar year.

  2. Are all public schools included in WISEdash attendance summaries?

    In general yes. WISEdash (and WINSS and SDPR) data tools/reports include data for all public schools (including charter schools) in school districts and all nondistrict charter schools under s. 118.40(2r), Wis. Stats..

    Note that the WISEdash Certified Data View, SDPR, and WINSS files summarize student data by district/school accountable for the students' educational outcomes. Students need not occupy a seat in a school building to be included in district and school summaries. If a district/school is accountable for a student's outcomes then the student is included in summaries for that district/school regardless of location/provider of educational services received by the student. (WISEdash Current Data View summarizes student data by the district/school submitting the data about these students. The submitting district/school is usually but not always the same as the accountable district/school.)

    Nearly all the data in WISEdash are collected to meet federal and state reporting requirements. The broadest range of requirements apply to school districts and nondistrict charter schools. A more limited set of requirements apply to Department of Corrections and Department of Health Services schools and very few requirements apply to private schools. Data for the latter set of schools are reported separately and not included in WISEdash.

  3. Why might the possible attendance days look low compared to the count of students enrolled in a school or student group?

    180 days is the statutory minimum number of scheduled school days for districts (see s. 121.02, Wis. Stats). If the ratio of possible days to students is much lower than 180 to 1, then the most likely explanations is student mobility. If a district has decided that a relatively large number of students at a particular school can attend for one-half day or less than one-half day (as occurs in certain pre-kindergarten/kindergarten programs), then a lower ratio would be expected. Temporary expulsions or attendance submission errors may also be contributing factors. The smallest collected unit of possible and actual days of attendance is one-half day. All students enrolled are included in counts, sums, and rates regardless of the number of possible attendance days submitted for these students.

  4. How is attendance during summer classes counted?

    Normally, attendance during summer classes is not counted in Actual Days of Attendance or Possible Days of Attendance because these classes are operated after the end of the school term. Actual Days of Attendance and Possible Days of Attendance are collected for the (regular) school term only. If summer classes are operated during the school term of a year-round school, Actual and Possible Days of Attendance are collected and counted. If summer classes are operated after the end of the school term, attendance during these classes is not counted. See s. 115.001 (12), Wis. Stats., for the official definition of school term.

  5. How do disciplinary removal and other atypical situations affect counting of actual and possible attendance days?

    Atypical situations such as those involving the provision/receipt of educational services by students subject to disciplinary removal are addressed on the Attendance Collection and Reporting page.

  6. Why might demographics for certain students be "unknown" in WISEdash Attendance Reports?

    Data about student demographics (e.g. economic status) may be unavailable due to atypical data sources. In these cases the student group is reported as "Unknown". Atypical sources include organizations other than schools covered by WISEdash. For attendance, this situation only affects statewide summaries for a fraction of a percent of all students and has no impact on district or school summaries in WISEdash Certified Data View.

  7. Why might attendance percents/averages/counts in the WISEdash Certified Data View be different from attendance percents/averages/counts in the WISEdash Current Data View?

    Attendance data in the Certified and Current Data Views may not exactly match primarily due to differences in determining student demographic group associations, district/school assignments, and handling duplicate student identifiers. Student group associations (e.g. race/ethnicity, economic status, etc) for Certified and Current Data Views are based on ISES end-of-year district and ISES end-of-year state records, respectively. The Certified Data View assigns students to the accountable district/school, and the Current Data View assigns students to the submitting district/school. Issues with student identifiers may be discovered and resolved after official publication of attendance data, and the Current Data View reflects resolution of these issues so student counts can change at any point in time. For more details, see Data Sources above and WISEdash Support - about the Current and Certified Data Views.


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