Research Showed One in Five Tennessee Public School Students in Six Districts Chronically Absent During Pandemic

Woman sitting alone with a mask on.

One in five Tennessee public school students from across six districts were chronically absent last year during the pandemic. Vanderbilt University’s Tennessee Education Research Alliance (TERA) discovered this during a study of around 150,000 students across about 250 schools. They also discovered that the majority of chronic absenteeism cases occurred among English Learners, minority students, and economically disadvantaged students. The state classifies 10 percent or more of classes missed as chronic absence.

Nowhere did the report mention which six districts were studied. The Tennessee Star asked TERA spokespersons which districts they’d researched. They didn’t respond by press time. TERA noted that these districts’ chronic absenteeism rates have been climbing since 2018, but they’d jumped significantly last year with virtual learning.

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