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Attendance: WISEdata

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Attendance is contact between a student and a teacher during which district-supervised PK-12 educational services are provided. Attendance policies are set by the school district, and the schools in the district must adhere to these attendance policies.

Actual Days of Attendance and Possible Days of Attendance must both be recorded. Report attendance data as designated by your district's policies. Each district may have a slightly different policy, which may differ further based on whether the class takes place in the school building or a remote/virtual classroom.

Most students receive educational services in school buildings, and these services are typically provided by district teachers during full-day school sessions. Some students participate in district-supervised educational programs that operate on a partial-day or partial-week basis. Some district-supervised programs operate off-site and may be staffed by third parties through district contract or agreement. Wisconsin school districts (ch.119 and ch.120, stats.) and non-district charter schools (§118.40(2r) and §118.40(2x)) are responsible for submitting actual and possible days of attendance for all students enrolled in all the above attendance situations consistent with the information provided below. Attendance data is submitted on an ongoing basis through the WISEdata Attendance Collection and is certified for the prior year as part of the December snapshot.

Data Element Description/Comments
Actual Days of Attendance
The actual number of days (reported to the one-half day) in attendance during a school term.
  • Students who receive at least 66% of district-supervised educational services for the day have accrued a full day (1.0) of actual attendance for that day.
  • Students who receive at least 33% and less than 66% of district-supervised educational services for the day have accrued a half day (0.5) of actual attendance for that day.
  • Students who receive less than 33% of district-supervised educational services for the day have accrued no attendance for that day.
  • If a school district has decided that a student can be present for one-half day or less than one-half day (as occurs in certain pre-kindergarten/kindergarten programs) and that student is present, the actual days of attendance should be reported as 0.5.

*Note that atypical situations are addressed in the FAQ section below.

Possible Days of Attendance

The total number of days (reported to the one-half day) that could occur for the specific student in the school term.

  • If a student is enrolled for less than the entire school term, possible days of attendance must reflect that reduction.
  • If a school district has decided that a student can attend school for one-half day or less than one-half day (as occurs in certain pre-kindergarten/kindergarten programs), the possible days of attendance should be reported as 0.5.

*Note that atypical situations are addressed in the FAQ section below.

**One-half day is one-half the clock time of a standard full day at the district providing primary educational services.

USES: Attendance is an important measure of student engagement and a predictor of student success. As such, attendance data is used for multiple reporting and accountability purposes, including, but not limited to:

2022-23 P-EBT Recommendations

The Public Health Emergency (PHE) was extended, allowing the P-EBT program to continue into the 2022-23 school year. Schools will be the source of truth for which students meet food service eligibility, the days spent learning from home, and the days absent for a COVID-related reason. The process for submitting information in the DHS School P-EBT Portal will remain the same as last school year.

Attendance as submitted by schools to WISEdata will not be used for 2022-23 P-EBT. Days spent learning from home and the days absent for a COVID-related reason do not directly align to attendance as submitted to WISEdata. Schools may need to track additional information. Any given school day should be included in only one, but not both, of the count of days spent learning from home and the count of days absent for a COVID-related reason.

Days spent learning from home must not solely rely on whether the student is credited with an actual day of attendance in WISEdata, in other words, counted as present or absent. Refer to the Attendance Reporting Recommendations below for information on scenarios for which a student learning from home may be credited with actual attendance, i.e. counted as present.

For students not engaged in remote/virtual learning, days absent for a COVID-related reason include, but are not limited to:

  • absence due to COVID or COVID-related illness,
  • close contact or adverse risk of COVID as identified by parent or guardian,
  • school closure, and
  • student group or individual quarantine.

Students are not eligible to receive P-EBT benefits for days absent for reasons which are not COVID-related. Email  to discuss other absence reasons which may qualify.

Attendance Reporting Recommendations

It is anticipated that some schools may have pandemic related outbreaks or have high numbers of student absences. Schools are encouraged to review their plans for such scenarios. DPI recommends the following considerations for attendance reporting for the 2022-23 school year.

Under state and federal special education law, local educational agencies (LEAs) have a responsibility to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) so that each student with an individualized education program (IEP) can continue to make progress in the general education curriculum and toward their IEP annual goals. Any time a student with a disability has a significant number of absences due to illness or any other reason, the IEP team must meet to determine how the absences are affecting the student’s receipt of FAPE, and consider whether the student might need additional or different special education services and supports. If remote/virtual synchronous or asynchronous instruction is provided, IEP teams must determine whether the student is able to receive FAPE through this learning modality, and if so, what special education services and supports might be required. More information about special education requirements in the context of the pandemic may be found on the department’s Covid-19 Special Education Updates and Resources webpage.


Learning Environment: In-Person
What Counts How to Report When to Report
Student is present in the building Standard/historical reporting practices apply Daily

In Quarantine or Unable to Attend In-Person Due to Illness Recommendations

Learning Environment: Remote (Virtual) Synchronous
What Counts How to Report When to Report

Learning Management System:

  • Evidence of daily work
  • Completion of assignment, module, exam
  • System log-in
  • Submission of assignment
  • Other analytics such as weekly progress reports

Attendance taken in synchronous event(s):

  • student is present during event.
  • educator collects evidence that student accessed the event (if recorded).

Contact logs

Pacing charts or adequate course progress

Activity logs

Daily check-in with student (virtual meeting, email connection, phone)

Regular (weekly) check-ins with parents/guardians

Attendance may be reported in half- or full-day increments, depending upon local policy. This policy may differ by grade level or range.

Check-ins or other student-educator meetings: In any given day, a check-in or student-educator meeting may count as a synchronous event; participation in the event counts as attendance for that course for the day.

DPI recommends that a school enter daily attendance for students, correcting any entries at the end of the week, if there are any updates to attendance records based upon assignment completion, check-ins, or LMS access.

DPI will capture official attendance data for 2020-21 in December 2021, as part of the Year End WISEdata snapshot.

Learning Environment: Remote (Virtual) Asynchronous
What Counts How to Report When to Report
  • Work completed
  • Check-ins or other student-educator events

Work completed: In any given day, a student completing an assignment for a course may be considered to have attended that course for the day. If the student partially completes the assignment, the student would have partial attendance for the day.

Schools that provide packets of work should consider what information should accompany the work in order for students and parents to understand 1) what the assignment/s is/are; 2) when and how the school/educator will collect each assignment; and 3) how much of the packet counts as a daily or weekly amount of work. These decisions should translate into what counts as attendance and when attendance reporting is updated in local SIS.

Check-ins or other student-educator meetings: In any given day, a check-in or student-educator meeting may be used to confirm participation in an asynchronous event; participation in the event counts as attendance for that course for the day.

DPI recommends that schools enter attendance daily, providing corrections as appropriate on a weekly basis.

If a school or district elects to report attendance in different intervals (weekly or longer), understand that WISEdash for Districts reports data updated on a nightly basis and may not be accurate if local reporting differs from the daily updates.


FAQs, Details, and Points to Note

1. Third Party Contracts: When services are provided pursuant to contract or agreement, the contracting district is expected to collect attendance data from third party contractors for students they serve and submit the data to DPI. Examples of third parties include: technical colleges, community-based organizations, nonprofit-nonsectarian agencies, universities, school to work program providers, cooperative educational service agencies, out-of-state school districts, private schools, residential care centers, etc.

2. Services Off School Grounds: Time spent receiving district-supervised educational services off school grounds (e.g., at a library, hospital, county correctional facility, college, home, etc.) is counted as actual attendance time.

3. Field Trips: Time spent on a district-supervised field trip is counted as actual attendance time.

4. Study Hall & Recess: Time during the regular school day for study hall or recess when the student is expected to be present is counted as actual attendance time. Athletic or academic clubs outside the regular school day are not counted as attendance time.

5. Homework: Under typical circumstances, homework sent home to a temporarily absent child, (i.e., family vacation) is not counted as actual attendance time. However, in light of COVID-19, if a school provides homework and learning materials to a student in quarantine or unable to attend in-person due to illness, the district could count this as actual attendance time as listed under In Quarantine or Unable to Attend In-Person Due to Illness above.

6. In-School Suspension: Time when students are present for instruction after placement in an in-school suspension room is counted as actual attendance time. Mark the student as present in your attendance records.

7. Out-of-School Suspension: If a student subject to out-of-school suspension receives district-supervised educational services, submit possible attendance days as time when services are offered or scheduled whether or not the student is present to receive these services. Suspended days would not count towards the student's actual attendance and would need to be marked as absences. For example, for a student who had perfect attendance other than a two-day suspension in a school with 180 instructional days, report the following for that student:

  • Possible Days of Attendance: 180
  • Actual Days of Attendance: 178

8. Temporary Expulsions: If a student is expelled temporarily but still receiving district-supervised services off school grounds, then you must maintain attendance records for this student. All expelled with services days would still count as Possible Days of Attendance, but for Days of Actual Attendance, you would submit a zero (0) for all days the student is absent. For temporary expulsions without services, the student should be exited with an Exit Date and Exit Type, at which point attendance data is no longer collected.

9. Permanent Expulsion: For expelled students who continue in enrollment status but who are not receiving educational services, submit zero (0) for the Actual and Possible Days of Attendance. Permanently expelled students without services have exit dates, so no attendance data is collected. See also s. 118.16(1m), Wis. Stats.

10. Summer Classes: 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. There is no summer enrollment or attendance data sent to WISEdata. DPI only wants enrollment and attendance for the regular school year. However, summer classes may be operated during the school term of a year-round school, and attendance for these classes should be included in the counts of Actual and Possible Days. 

11. Partial Day or Week Schedule: Very young students may receive limited educational services (such as speech and language) with possible attendance less than one hour per day. In these situations, possible days should be counted as 0.5, and, if students are present for that time period, then actual days should be counted as 0.5.

12. Attendance Recording Interval: School districts continue to determine the interval that is best for recording attendance, such as hours or periods. For reporting attendance data to WISEdata, the district should report absent, present for half day, and present for the whole day, 0, 0.5, 1.0, respectively, for each school day.

13. Absences: Attendance reporting to DPI does not differentiate between “excused” and “unexcused” absences. Any absence during a school day in which a student is expected to attend, including medical and dental appointments, should result in a decrease in the percent of the district supervised educational services used to calculate ‘Actual Days of Attendance’.

Each district may have a slightly different policy, which may differ further based on whether the class takes place in the school building or a virtual classroom. For instance, some schools may use negative attendance, minutes of instruction, period attendance, or other methods. Report Actual Days of Attendance and Possible Days of Attendance as defined in the Data Element and Description table.

For COVID-19 attendance recommendations, refer to the COVID-19 attendance table above. Your district may maintain an alternate method of attendance reporting for local use, but this alternate method may not be used for State and Federal reporting.

14. Parentally-Placed Private Students: For parentally-placed private students, DPI does not collect attendance data. However, if it's submitted, it will be subject to validation rules. If you submit zero (0) for your attendance value, you should not see an error about attendance missing. If you don’t send anything by leaving that field blank, and WISEdata receives a null value, an error will throw. Please send a value of zero (0). 

15. Virtual Online and Blended Learning Students: Students attending classes online through a virtual school, please follow your district's policies regarding attendance reporting. Please visit the Attendance and Testing section of the Online and Blended Learning for Schools and Educators page for more information.

16. Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Wisconsin School for the Deaf, and County Children with Disabilities Education Board schools: WCBVI, WSD, and CCDEB student attendance will be reported directly to WISEdata by those agencies.

17. Runaways: A student who has run away from home, is not attending school, and has an unknown location should have his or her enrollment managed according to school board policy. If the local policy does NOT withdraw the student from school, the days that the student was missing must be reported to DPI as included in the (added to) Possible Days of Attendance count and excluded from the Actual Days of Attendance count (subtracted from).

18. Students in Quarantine or Unable to Attend In-Person Instruction Due to Illness: Districts can and should code student attendance as "present" if the student is quarantined due to possible exposure and is completing work while in quarantine while enrolled in an in-person learning environment. Districts are also able to code student attendance as present if the student is ill and unable to attend in-person instruction and is completing work.

  • Local policy determines what and how much counts as completing work.
  • Students submitted as absent would not contribute to truancy. However, they would negatively affect the overall attendance and absenteeism rate of the district. WISEdata does not differentiate between excused and unexcused absence.
  • DPI encourages continuity of learning.

19. Medical Excuse Documents: Districts should not require medical excuse notes to prove quarantine is necessary.

  • State statute (118.15(3)(a))does not require medical excuses for the district to code an absence as medically related; however, statute allows for districts to require excuse notes.
  • DPI supports equity. Excuse notes put up barriers for families, especially those with low SES, from having their student absences coded as medically excused. This can contribute unnecessarily to the habitual truancy process and penalties.
  • When a district has concerns related to the number of a student’s absences or the student’s disengagement from learning, the district should follow a supportive, culturally responsive, trauma sensitive approach to student and family engagement. Barriers should be identified and problem-solved with the student and family perspective directing identification of needs and solutions.

20. Students Who Cannot Attend due to Transportation Issues: If a district does not have enough bus drivers and is unable to transport students, if those students learn from home, they should be considered present if they meet the criteria listed for students in quarantine.


See also:

Compulsory School Attendance (s. 118.15, Wis. Stats.)

School Attendance Enforcement (s. 118.16, Wis. Stats.)

Sections 119.25 and 120.13 of the Wisconsin Statutes for more information about expulsions.

Learning Modality data element page

K-12 School Closure FAQ

Attendance for Online Learning


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