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With 16 percent of kids ‘chronically’ absent, Maine struggles to get them to school

More than 29,000 Maine students are missing enough class time to cause worry among school administrators and state education officials responsible for helping them succeed.

The Maine Department of Education last week released 2016-17 school year data for districts across the state that show that 16 percent of the nearly 192,000 students included in the data are chronically absent.

“To be honest, it’s higher than we anticipated it being,” said Janette Kirk, the DOE’s deputy director of learning systems.

Research shows that students who miss that many days lag behind their peers, run the risk of becoming disengaged in school or dropping out, and are more likely to fail classes. Even pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students who miss substantial amounts of school tend to struggle more than their peers later on, according to the Brookings Institute.

Maine considers a student absent if they miss more than half a school day. Students are chronically absent if they miss 10 percent of school days — or 18 days in a 175-day school year.

The Fiddlehead Focus/St. John Valley Times is pleased to feature content from our sister company, Bangor Daily News. To read the rest of “With 16 percent of kids ‘chronically’ absent, Maine struggles to get them to school,” an article by contributing Bangor Daily News staff writer Nick McCrea, please follow this link to the BDN online.

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