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Mesa Public Schools sees improvement in chronic absenteeism

Chronic absenteeism has been a major issue across K-12 schools in Arizona, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. But Mesa Public Schools is seeing improvement in that area. 

Nearly 400 fewer students were chronically absent this quarter compared to the same time last year. Assistant Superintendent Arlinda Mann said they’ve implemented several strategies like giving students a "welcome to school" slip when they’re late.

“So when students come in late, they don’t have to walk around with a tardy slip. It’s 'welcome to school' so they look for the positive ways rather than punitive ways to welcome kids when they are at school and let them know how much they're missed when they don't come," Mann said. 

She said some classrooms have competitions to see which students have the best attendance.

Chronic absence is defined as missing 10% or more of the school year. In Arizona, that’s about 18 days of class.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s annual chronic absence rate hovered around 12% to 14%. In 2021, it shot up to 22%.

Senior field correspondent Bridget Dowd has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.