Wednesday, the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) shared a first look at a new early warning dashboard, which is currently under development to help educators identify students who may be at risk of not graduating and, ultimately, direct resources accordingly. IDOE also presented the state’s most recent chronic absenteeism data, which increased significantly following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall, Indiana’s chronic absenteeism rate for the 2022-2023 school year was 19.3%, meaning nearly one in five students missed at least 10% of school days or about three and a half weeks. While the state’s chronic absenteeism rate decreased from the 2021-2022 school year to the 2022-2023 school year, it remains over 8% higher than it was before the pandemic.

“Schools across the country are facing similar challenges when it comes to declining student attendance, including Indiana,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “We know the positive impact that a high-quality educator can make, but that impact is only possible when students come to school…making attendance particularly important as we work together to help students recover from the academic impacts of the pandemic, as well as ensure all students have foundational knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the future. Indiana’s chronic absenteeism rate also underscores the urgency behind the state’s ongoing work to rethink the high school experience and, ultimately, ensure more parents and students see the value in education. It has never been more important for parents, educators and community leaders to work together to ensure students are attending school, thus providing them the best possible chance for long-term success.”

One way that IDOE is elevating the importance of student attendance is through the development of an early warning dashboard that will provide actionable data for educators and families as they work together to support students most at risk of not graduating. For purposes of the dashboard, at risk is defined as having less than an 80% chance of graduating on time using historical data. Attendance will be one of several indicators of high importance that will be used in determining which students are considered at risk. 

Once fully developed, educators will be able to clearly see which students are at risk and why. Data will help determine specific areas of difficulty for students and allow educators to guide additional, timely instruction and support in response. Educators will also be able to export individual indicators and profiles to guide increased discussion and engagement with families. 

Additional key takeaways shared with the State Board of Education (SBOE) include:

  • While the state’s chronic absenteeism rate decreased from the 2021-2022 school year to the 2022-2023 school year, it remains over 8% higher than it was before the pandemic (19.3%).
  • 84 schools have 1 in 2 students who are chronically absent.
  • Rates of chronic absenteeism are highest amongst students in grades nine through 12, ranging from 21% in grade nine to over 33% in grade 12.
  • Student populations who experienced the greatest academic impacts in ELA and math following the pandemic also have greater rates of chronic absenteeism.
    • Black students (30.7%), Hispanic students (24.4%), English learners (20.5%), and students eligible for free and reduced lunch (25.9%).

In addition to the new early warning dashboard, attendance is also one of 20 headline indicators elevated as part of the Indiana Graduates Prepared to Succeed (Indiana GPS) performance dashboard. Indiana GPS specifically displays the percentage of students who attend school more than 94% of the time. Indiana-specific research shows that students who attend school less than 94% of the time experience negative academic impacts as a result. Statewide, only 60% of students have an attendance rate of 94% or higher.

IDOE anticipates piloting the new early warning dashboard in a number of schools during the 2023-2024 school year, with the dashboard becoming accessible to all schools during the 2024-2025 school year. 

The presentation from today’s SBOE meeting is available here.