One out of five students in Springfield Public Schools was considered a chronic truant last school year, newly released education data shows.
Data on chronic truancy was part of a presentation superintendent Jennifer Gill and her staff gave Monday updating the school board on recently released state education data.
According to the Illinois State Board of Education, chronic truants are students who have nine or more unexcused absences throughout the school year.
In Springfield, the rate climbed from 17.7 percent in 2015-16 to 21 percent last school year. That’s higher than the state average of 11 percent.
In raw numbers provided Monday, 2,151 middle and high school students in Springfield were chronic truants in the 2016-17 school year. That’s up from 1,785 two school years ago.
Gill said chronic truancy is a problem the district is taking very seriously. She outlined several steps Monday the district is taking to address the problem.
But she also urged parents to make sure their child attends school.
“We really need to enlist the support of parents in getting their kids to school on time and throughout the entire day,” Gill said. “When students are chronic truants, it really puts them behind.”
Gill said Southeast High School added a truancy interventionist this year, giving the district two total (Lanphier High School already had one). The positions are paid for with federal Title I dollars.
A truancy interventionist calls and makes home visits when students don’t show up, but also works with the student to get back on track, she said.
“These are actual teachers on staff that help with truancy intervention and get kids in school and in the right programs,” Gill said.
In addition, Gill said, the district is pursuing a grant with the regional office of education to add interventionists at the middle schools. District 186 also has parent educators and outside mentors that work with students to help keep them in school and on track, she said.
Monday’s report also included information on attendance, graduation rate, test scores, percentage of freshman on track and number of students taking Advanced Placement courses.
All of the scores (with the exception of Advanced Placement) are available on illinoisreportcard.com.