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Chronic absenteeism is an important indicator of student engagement and is featured prominently in both state and federal accountability systems in Wisconsin. Students are considered to be chronically absent if they miss a certain threshold (at least 16% under state definition and more than 10% under federal ESSA definition) of school days out of the total number of school days during which they were enrolled. Chronic absenteeism is calculated annually using attendance data submitted by schools through their Student Information Systems.
Chronic absenteeism is a calculation that is derived from attendance data. For information about attendance data, please visit the About the Data - Attendance page.
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For school years before 2018-19, Chronic absenteeism is calculated differently under state and federal (ESSA) definitions. For more information on these definitions, please see the Calculating Rates section below.
For cautions on the source data used to calculate Chronic absenteeism, please see About the Data - Attendance Cautions.
Frequently Asked Questions about Chronic Absenteeism Data
1. How are chronic absenteeism rates different from attendance rates?
Chronic absenteeism is a student-level determination based on the ratio of days attended to days possible. Calculating chronic absenteeism rates involves first determining how many students are considered chronically absent, and then calculating the proportion of students considered chronically absent in a school, district, or student group (see Calculating Rates section). By contrast, attendance rates measure the total days attended as a proportion of the total days possible across an entire school, district, or student group. In other words, school or district attendance rates do not involve a calculation of student-level attendance rates.
2. What is the difference between the state and federal (ESSA) definitions of chronic absenteeism in Wisconsin’s accountability systems?
Starting with school year 2018-19 data, Wisconsin's state and federal (ESSA) accountability systems have aligned with the same methodology for determining chronic absenteeism. In both the federal (ESSA) definition (and State definition for 2018-19 and after), a student is considered chronically absent if he or she misses more than 10% of possible attendance days, but is only included in the calculation if he or she was enrolled for at least 90 non-consecutive days in the school year. In the state definition for school years 2017-18 and prior, a student is considered chronically absent if he or she misses more than 16% of possible attendance days in a school year and is only included in the calculation if he or she was enrolled for at least 45 non-consecutive days in the school year. You can see how these two different definitions of chronic absenteeism impact rates by using the “Absentee Measure” dropdown feature on WISEdash Public.
3. My school submitted an error in our attendance data that affects our chronic absenteeism rate in WISEdash Public. Can I correct the data in this dashboard?
No. However, you can correct this data for Accountability Report Cards and ESSA accountability, with adequate evidence, by opening a data correction inquiry with the Office of Educational Accountability after the release of preliminary, secure report cards in October of each year.
Definitions of Key Terms
For definitions, please see the WISEdash Glossary.
Chronic absenteeism is an accountability indicator used in Wisconsin's state and federal (ESSA) accountability systems. Starting with 2018-19 data, the Wisconsin state and accountability system is aligning with the ESSA accountability systems have aligned to use the same methodology for determining chronic absenteeism:
- Students that are enrolled for at least 90 non-consecutive days during the school year are included in this calculation.
- A student is considered chronically absent if he or she missed more than 10% of possible attendance days (has an attendance rate that is rounded to 89% or below).
- The chronic absenteeism rate is the number of students who are chronically absent divided by the total number of students who have been enrolled at least 90 days.
For 2017-18 and prior data, the state accountability definition of chronic absenteeism was different from the ESSA accountability definition. The methodology for calculating chronic absenteeism using the state definition for 2017-18 and prior years is below:
- Students that are enrolled for at least 45 non-consecutive days during the school year are included in this calculation.
- A student is considered chronically absent if he or she missed at least 16% of possible attendance days (has a rounded attendance rate that is at or below 84%).
- The chronic absenteeism rate for the school or district is the number of students who are chronically absent divided by the total number of students who have been enrolled at least 45 days.
Please see About the Data - Attendance Data Sources.
Data Changes Over Time
Chronic absenteeism is a calculation derived from attendance data and is available in WISEdash starting in 2020. For more information on how reporting attendance data has changed over time, please visit About the Data - Attendance Changes.
More About the Data
Laws, Rules, and Guidance
- Compulsory School Attendance Law
- School Attendance Enforcement Law
- School Attendance
- Days and Hours of Instruction
- Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Compulsory School Attendance
- Admissions and Early Entrance to Kindergarten(includes information about compulsory school attendance)
Data Tools and Reports
WISEdash (includes current and recent Chronic Absenteeism data)
- WINSS Historical Data Files