Report: Student absences a growing problem

Nearly one in seven public school students miss too many days of school, according to federal government data released Tuesday.

A U.S. Education Department Office of Civil Rights report found 13 percent of students were absent from school for at least 10 percent of the school year. The report was based on data from the 2013-14 school year.

Educators note students who miss too days of school fall behind academically. Attendance is one of the criteria used by state education officials to determine Georgia's school climate ratings, which grade schools on the safety of its learning environment. The state released its 2014-15 ratings last week.

“This data is a call to action for states and communities to use the attendance data that they collect every day as an early warning sign that can be used to trigger action and support before students miss so much school they require costly remediation to make up for the missed instruction,” Professor Robert Balfanz of the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University said in a statement released by Attendance Works, a San Francisco-based policy group.

The federal report found a 20 percent decline in out-of-school suspensions from the 2011-12 school year. It also noted that black students are nearly four times as likely than white students to be suspended from school and twice as likely to be expelled.