Sarah Lenhoff, associate professor and researcher for the College of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, quoted in Chalkbeat, “Report: COVID, finances helped drive absenteeism in Detroit district”

Chalkbeat, 12/20
Report: COVID, finances helped drive absenteeism in Detroit district
By Ethan Bakuli 

Chronic absenteeism rose significantly for Detroit district students last year as families continued to deal with financial, logistical, and health ramifications of the COVID pandemic. A new Wayne State report shows that 70% of Detroit students were chronically absent – missing 10% or last school year – compared with 62% in 2018-2019. About 54% were described as severely chronically absent, meaning they missed 20% or more of the year. The report comes from a representative survey of more than 800 Detroit families as well as student attendance records and administrative data provided by the Detroit school district. At the core of the study’s results, according to Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, an assistant professor of education at Wayne State, are the ongoing social and economic barriers that chronically absent students face, particularly the difficult choices that families are forced to make in order to meet the expectation of good attendance without an adequate kind of social support structure. “We talked to families who had to quit their jobs to make sure their kids are in schools,” Lenhoff said. “Maybe their child’s attendance is better, but then they’re unemployed, and they’re not making any money.” 

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