Alaska has Worst Rate of School Absences

    Juneau (KINY) Alaska had the highest rate of school absence in the nation according to a new study by the school advocacy group, attendance works.

    The report claimed 29% of Alaska Schools have a problem with chronic absence which is defined as missing at least 30 percent of instruction days each year.

    "Another 25 percent of schools face missing between 20-29 percent of days.  That is pretty significant.  Almost 2/3 of schools in Alaska have very high levels of kids missing so much school that they are academically at risk," Executive Director Heddy Chang said.

    The biggest reasons for high levels of absence include a lack of access to health care, transportation issues and poverty.

    Chang said another possible issue is Native American children, whose parents lose faith in public school.

    "There is an unfortunate history where we as a country tried to put kids into boarding schools and strip them of their language and culture.  The aftermath of that continues to impact relationships with schools and native american communities, who may not  feel trust in schools, and see them as a way for their child to be successful."

    She urged Alaska's Department of Education to do a better job of analyzing data so schools can take steps sooner to keep kids in school.

    In Juneau, attendance is better than the state average, Superintendent Mark Miller said.  He said a lot of the athletes in schools can miss instructional days because they are off traveling to games and other school related activities.




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