One in five Illinois students regularly skip school thanks to COVID-19 mandates


Illinois students were missing – en masse – during COVID-19 restrictions on in-person learning. As a result, almost 20% did not meet standards in math and English.

Illinois public schools so often missed 20% of their students that they were considered chronically absent this past school year – missing 10% of classes – and that translated into significantly lower test scores.

The high truancy rates were accompanied by a drop in academic performance, revealing that 17% fewer students met the grade standards for English proficiency while 18% missed the benchmarks for English proficiency. mathematics, according to the recently released state school report card.

Illinois State Board of Education Trustees Said Increase in “Failure Marks” Resulted in 5% Drop in Rate of Grade 9 Students on Track graduating from Illinois high schools.

State Superintendent Carmen Ayala attributed the decline in student performance to the “significant impact” of the coronavirus pandemic on attendance and the consequent use of distance learning.

With less than one in ten Illinois students attending fully in-person classes since the onset of COVID-19, Ayala said students “this past school year have been hit the hardest by the pandemic.”

“We have witnessed both tragedy and heroism in our schools over the past year,” Ayala said in a statement. “Students and educators have lost and lived and learned so much through unthinkable obstacles, but the loss is not the whole story. “

“We know we have a steep path ahead of us to help students regain their math and reading skills, and we are confident that we have the funding, support and talent in our schools to climb that hill.”

Along with declining grades and attendance rates, Illinois public schools have seen a significant drop in enrollment statewide during the pandemic.

Nearly 70,000 fewer students were enrolled in Illinois public schools in 2021, including more than 10,000 students absent from Chicago public schools.

ISBE officials said the 2.5% drop in public school enrollments statewide – more than double the average student departures reported in a typical year – reflected the drop in enrollment rates observed in other states.

While state-level data is preliminary and reflects about 90% of Illinois schools, districts were given access to aggregate school and district data for a correction period on Nov. 1, according to the door- word of ISBE, Jackie Matthews.

Unlike previous years, bulletin data is released in two batches after the testing window was extended last spring from March 15 to May 28 due to the pandemic. District-specific data is expected to be released on December 2.

Governor JB Pritzker issued a statement that the 2021 Illinois School Report Card illustrates “the enormous challenges the pandemic has created for school-aged children around the world.”

“As we move forward, helping our children to have this experience and restore their learning must be at the heart of every action,” he said.

Pritzker’s statewide school mask mandate remains in effect, with no end date set. He initially said he would let local school districts decide if masking was right for their students, but weeks later he imposed the mandate, saying too few districts meet his definition of the right choice.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “recommends” universal masking for all students, staff, and visitors to US schools. The masks impact the language and socio-emotional learning of some students, so some schools have resisted forcing students to wear them and were quickly punished by the Pritzker administration.

Illinois schools have received more than $ 7 billion in federal funding to address the impact of the pandemic on student outcomes.

ISBE officials said they have earmarked pandemic relief funds to bridge the digital divide, provide mental health support to students and educators, and help students make the transition to college after graduation.

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