Students Are Absent From School More Than Ever — But Parents Don't Think It's A Problem

Problems stemming from the pandemic continue to affect students.

frustrated teacher in classroom full of students BearFotos / Shutterstock

Students are absent from school so frequently now that it’s been given a new name — “chronic absenteeism.” However, polls found that parents did not think it was a big deal or something to be overly concerned about. 

Why is there such a disconnect between what parents think and the reality for students?

Chronic absenteeism has become a growing problem.

A new poll from NPR and Ipsos evidenced just how big of a problem attending school is becoming for students across the country.


According to NPR, “In 2023, roughly one student out of four was chronically absent across the school year. The problem is aligned with historic drops in reading and math scores nationwide.”

RELATED: 1 In 4 Kids Aren’t Going To School Anymore — ‘Chronic Absenteeism Is A Bigger Issue Than People Realize'


In a poll asking parents of school-aged children to select the correct definition of chronic absenteeism, only 32% were able to identify it correctly — as missing a minimum of 10% of the school year.

Furthermore, only 5% of parents of school-aged children believe chronic absenteeism is a “major concern.” On the other hand, 40% of parents are worried about “young people not being prepared for the future.”

NPR stated, “Mallory Newall, a vice president at Ipsos, sees potential there: ‘To prepare students adequately for the future, they need to be in the classroom. I think that could be a really effective and important linkage for parents that maybe parents in the public just aren’t making quite yet.’”

Many of the problems with chronic absenteeism stem from the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are two facets to how the pandemic has affected chronic absenteeism.


First, there is the matter of keeping children home from school when they are sick.

One parent, Maritza Hernandez, described her story of struggling with her seven-year-old’s allergies to NPR. She stated that there were many times when he was able to go to school before the pandemic, even when he was symptomatic because they could rest on the fact it was just allergies.

Now, when her son shows signs of what are most likely allergies, she cannot send him to school because she cannot be sure it is not something more serious.

RELATED: Teacher Worries ‘School Refusal’ Is Becoming A Big Problem In Young Students — ‘It’s A Misdemeanor To Miss This Much School’


Second, there is a general lack of regard for education now that students have been able to complete school from home.

Stanford University education professor Thomas Dee said, “One very prominent explanation here that meets the evidence is that during the pandemic, many children and parents simply began to see less value in regular school attendance.”

Newsweek reported on the increase across the country in homeschooling. They said, “According to the U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey, homeschooling grew from 2023 to 2024. Nationally, 4.3 million children have been homeschooled this year compared to just 3.7 million in 2023.”

Homeschooling is certainly not a bad thing and is an excellent option for many families.


However, some states have very relaxed rules about homeschooling, which could lead to problems.

Based on information from the Home School Legal Defense Association, 11 states are known as “no notice, low regulation,” meaning parents do not have to notify any organization that they are homeschooling their children.

Meanwhile, 23 states have “low regulation,” which means parents must notify their local school district that they are homeschooling, but nothing more.


This can lead to problems as parents can use this as an opportunity to not properly educate their children or even subject them to educational neglect.

Regardless of what exactly is causing chronic absenteeism, it is clearly causing a major problem in schools across America. Absent students cannot receive the instruction they need to succeed in school and in life. This is a problem that must be addressed so that students’ futures are not negatively impacted.

RELATED: High School Teacher Stresses Her Impatience With The 'Learned Helplessness' Of Her Students — 'I Didn't Think It Could Get Any Worse'


Mary-Faith Martinez is a writer for YourTango who covers entertainment, news and human interest topics.