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Public School Leaders Report 90 Percent Average Daily Student Attendance Rate in November 2023

January 18, 2024

NCES data show a decrease in the percentage of public schools that reported supply chain-related procurement challenges compared to prior school year

WASHINGTON (January 18, 2024) — Public school leaders nationwide reported in November 2023 that their average daily attendance rate for students was 90 percent, according to new data from the School Pulse Panel (SPP) released today by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the statistical center within the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Thirty-seven percent of public schools had an average daily attendance rate of 95 percent or higher.

When asked about their concerns related to student and teacher attendance and absences, 15 percent of public schools reported being “extremely concerned” about student absences. Obtaining substitute teachers was the top concern for public schools, with 35 percent of public schools reporting that they were “extremely concerned” about this issue.

Extreme concern related to teacher and non-teaching staff absences were reported by lower percentages of public schools, with 8 percent saying they were “extremely concerned” with teaching absences and 7 percent saying they were “extremely concerned” with non-teaching staff absences.

“The new, timely data on attendance help us understand the extent of absenteeism at public schools, as well as the extent to which absences by students, teachers, and staff are a concern to public school leaders,“ said NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr. “The data also show challenges our schools face when it comes to the supply chain for adequate goods and services needed to successfully operate, such as food services, laptops and other electronic devices, and office equipment.”

Compared to the overall percentage of public schools that reported being “extremely concerned” about student absences (15 percent), higher percentages of schools in high-poverty neighborhoods (26 percent), those with a student body made up of 76 percent or more students of color (26 percent), and high/secondary schools (21 percent) reported being “extremely concerned.”

The latest SPP survey also focused on supply chain-related procurement challenges. In November 2023, 52 percent of public schools reported experiencing procurement challenges that appeared to be the result of supply chain disruptions. This was a decrease of 31 percentage points compared to October 2022, when 83 percent of schools reported supply chain-related procurement challenges. The top procurement challenges were related to food services (27 percent), followed by access to laptops and other electronic devices (23 percent).

Additional data collected from 100 public K-12 schools in the U.S. Outlying Areas - American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands - are also available. Public school leaders across the Outlying Areas reported in November 2023 that their average daily attendance rate was 87 percent.

The findings released today, which also include data on school lunch programs and school improvement plans, are part of an experimental data product from the School Pulse Panel, NCES’s innovative approach to delivering timely information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on public K-12 schools in the U.S. The data, collected between November 14 and November 28 of 2023, came from 1,536 participating public K-12 schools from every state and the District of Columbia.

Experimental data products are innovative statistical tools created using new data sources or methodologies. Experimental data may not meet all of NCES’s quality standards but are of sufficient benefit to data users in the absence of other relevant products to justify release. NCES clearly identifies experimental data products upon their release.

All data released today can be found on the School Pulse Panel dashboard at https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/spp/results.asp.

Key Findings

Attendance and Absenteeism

  • Public school leaders nationwide reported their average daily attendance rate was 90 percent as of November 2023.
  • Public schools reported daily attendance rates that fall into the following groups:
  >=95 percent
average daily
attendance
>=90 to <95 percent
average daily
attendance
>=85 to <90 percent
average daily
attendance
>=75 to <85 percent
average daily
attendance
<75 percent
average daily
attendance
Percentage of
public schools
37 Percent 40 Percent 9 Percent 6 Percent 3 Percent
  • When asked about their concerns related to student attendance and absences as of November 2023, the ability to obtain substitute teachers was the most concerning issue, with 35 percent of public schools reporting being “extremely concerned” about this issue.
  • Fifteen percent of public schools reported being “extremely concerned” about student absences; extreme concern related to teacher and non-teaching staff absences were reported by lower percentages of schools (8 and 7 percent, respectively).
    • Higher percentages of public schools with the following characteristics reported being “extremely concerned” about student absences compared to the national estimate (15 percent):
      • In high-poverty neighborhoods (26 percent)
      • With a student body made up of 76 percent or more students of color (26 percent)
      • High/secondary schools (21 percent)

Supply Chain-Related Procurement Challenges & School Lunch Programs

  • There was a 31-point decrease in the percentage of public schools reporting any supply chain-related procurement challenges for the 2023-24 school year compared to the 2022-23 school year (52 percent versus 83 percent).
    • The top procurement challenges facing public schools during the 2023-24 school year are related to food services (27 percent) and laptops and other electronic devices (23 percent).
  • Ninety-two percent of public schools reported participating in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) meal programs for the 2023-24 school year, a higher percentage that reported doing so than last school year (88 percent). Four percent of public schools reported offering a non-USDA school meal program.
    • Of these schools, the top challenges they reported in operating their school meal programs for the 2023-24 school year were:
      • School food service staff shortages (41 percent)
      • Convincing parents to submit applications for free- or-reduced price meals (38 percent)
      • Increased program costs (21percent)

School Improvement Plans (SIP)

  • The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended, requires that states identify a school for comprehensive support and improvement (CSI) if it is a Title I school in the lowest 5 percent of Title I schools based on the state’s accountability system, a public high school failing to graduate one third or more of its students, or a Title I school that was previously identified for additional targeted support and improvement (ATSI) and did not meet the statewide exit criteria for these plans. Among all public schools, 10 percent were identified for CSI.
  • States identify schools for targeted or additional targeted support and improvement (TSI/ATSI) if one or more student subgroups are “consistently underperforming” as defined by the state or if one or more student subgroups are performing as poorly as the lowest performing 5 percent of Title I schools identified for CSI. Among all public schools, 18 percent were identified for TSI/ATSI.
    • Compared to the overall percentage of public schools that were identified for CSI or TSI/ATSI (29 percent), higher percentages of schools with the following characteristics were identified for CSI or TSI/ATSI: In high-poverty neighborhoods (44 percent)
    • With a student body made up of 76 percent of more students of color (42 percent)
    • In the West (40 percent)
  • Lower percentages of schools with the following characteristics were identified for CSI or TSI/ATSI than the national percentage (29 percent):
    • In the Midwest (21 percent)
    • With a student body made up of 25 percent or fewer students of color (16 percent)
  • Among the 29 percent of schools identified for CSI or TSI/ATSI, the top areas prioritized for improvement in their SIPs were related to:
    • Curriculum, assessment, or instructional materials (CAIM) for English/language arts (68 percent)
    • CAIM for math (65 percent)
    • CAIM for special populations (e.g., English learners and students with disabilities) (56 percent)
    • School climate and culture (46 percent)
    • Family or community engagement (45 percent)
    • Student engagement (42 percent)

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The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System, is the statistical center of the U.S. Department of Education and the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations. NCES fulfills a congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze, and report complete statistics on the condition and progress of American education; conduct and publish reports; and review and report on education activities internationally.

Follow NCES on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube and subscribe to the NCES Newsflash to receive email notifications when new data are released.

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is the independent and nonpartisan statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education. Its mission is to provide scientific evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to share this information in formats that are useful and accessible to educators, parents, policymakers, researchers, and the public.

CONTACT:
Josh De La Rosa, National Center for Education Statistics, ARIS.NCES@ed.gov
Erik Robelen, Hager Sharp, erobelen@hagersharp.com