New Mexico School Absentee Rates Still At High Levels
According to a new reportpresented Thursday to the Legislative Education Study Committee nearly 40% of students were chronically absent from school in New Mexico during the 2022-23 school year.
That number is slightly less than the previous year, but it’s still a major concern for educators and lawmakers who say children can’t learn if they aren’t in class.
Under New Mexico law, a student is considered chronically absent if he or she misses 10% or more of school days during the academic year.
According to the study, students average eight excused absences per year and 10 unexcused absences.
There are many factors for the numbers, and Senator and Committee Co-chair William Soules says most are out of the reach of any school district.
“It tends to be problems with housing. It tends to be problems with transportation. It tends to be problems with drug addiction and mental health, all things that are not education,” he said. “So much of the problem is a non-education problem yet we’ve tried to approach it as if it’s an education problem and punish the kids who are chronically absent when it’s not their fault, it’s our fault.”
According to the report nearly 61% of students who are experiencing housing insecurity are also chronically absent.
The Public Education Departmentsays early invention is the key and needs to start as early as kindergarten.
The PED told lawmakers there needs to be continued support for statewide attendance initiatives, funding for schools to implement the Attendance for Success Act and behavioral health initiatives and restorative methods to eliminate exclusionary practices, and legislation to focus on attendance interventions and reduce administrative burdens.