Oxford and Lafayette school districts among lowest chronic absentee rates

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The Mississippi Department of Education released the most recent numbers for school- and district-level chronic absentee data last week, and Oxford and Lafayette County’s numbers put them in the top half of school districts with the lowest rate of chronically absent students.

Chronic absenteeism is defined as a student missing 10 percent (18 days) of a school year. The number is broken down even further to an average of two missed days a month for any reason, including excused and unexcused absences and suspensions. The data released by MDE revealed 13.05 percent of Mississippi students were chronically absent during the 2018-19 school year.

The statewide number decreased from the 2017-18 school year, with a total of 63,226 students chronically absent last year. The number is down nearly 20,000 from the 17-18 school year.

“Our declining chronic absenteeism rate is encouraging, and it corresponds to rising student achievement statewide,” Dr. Carey Wright, Mississippi’s superintendent of education said in a recent release. “Students who attend school regularly perform better academically.”

Oxford School District came in fifth in the state, with a rate of 6.28 percent. The number dropped nearly four percent from the 10.86 percent during the previous school year. Of the 4,506 students enrolled in OSD schools last year, 283 of them were chronically absent.

Of the schools that reported within OSD, Oxford Middle School had the lowest rate, with 37 of its 685 students chronically absent (5.4 percent). Oxford High School had the highest rate, with 114 of the 1,246 students reported chronically absent (9.15 percent).

Lafayette County School District had a district-wide rate of 11.17 percent, with 336 of its 3,009 students chronically absent last school year.

The lowest rate in LCSD came from Lafayette Elementary School. Out of 705 students, only 52 were chronically absent (7.38 percent). Similar to OSD, Lafayette High School saw the highest rate in the district, with 149 of 836 students reported chronically absent (17.82 percent).

Statewide, 12th grade saw the highest absenteeism rate, with 26.20 percent of students chronically absent their senior year. Third grade had the lowest rate, with only 8.02 percent of students chronically absent.

“Schools, parents and communities need to work together to make sure all children are attending school regularly,” Wright said. “Chronic absenteeism has a negative impact on student achievement because students who are not in school are not learning.”

Claiborne County was the top school district in the state, with less than five percent of their 1,438 students missing school last year. The worst district in Mississippi last year was Amite County, with 251 of their 958 enrolled students (25.66 percent) missing school.

Water Valley School District had a chronic absentee rate of 15.19 percent, with 175 of their 1,152 students chronically absent.