Home Chronic Absenteeism Task Force to develop resources, distribute action plans in Virginia
State/National

Chronic Absenteeism Task Force to develop resources, distribute action plans in Virginia

Rebecca Barnabi
student school test
(© sebra – stock.adobe.com)

Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced today the Chronic Absenteeism Task Force, a key pillar of ALL IN VA to accelerate the learning loss recovery by addressing attendance, literacy and learning in Virginia’s public schools.

In response to a near doubling of chronic absenteeism in Virginia classrooms resulting from extended pandemic closure of schools, the task force will develop resources and distribute action plans for school divisions to address the record-high student absenteeism rates across the Commonwealth.

“The decision to shutter schools for extended periods during the pandemic continues to have lasting, detrimental effects on our children. To prevent losing an entire generation of children, Virginia is leading the way to accelerate our students’ learning loss recovery through intensive tutoring and combatting chronic absenteeism,” Youngkin said. “Children must be in school to have any chance of recovering from the persistent learning loss facing students across the Commonwealth. Our new Chronic Absenteeism Task Force was designed to get kids back in the classroom and back on track now.”

During a two-week listening tour in all eight Superintendent Regions, the Virginia Department of Education met with instructional leads and superintendents to outline the ALL IN VA plan and next steps.

“Over the past three years, the chronic absenteeism rate has doubled,” Virginia Secretary of Education Aimee Rogstad Guidera said. “Today, nearly one in five students in Virginia are missing more than 10% of the school year. Commonsense tells us that students must be in school. The data proves it—students who are chronically absent are 25% further behind in math and 18% further behind in reading.”

The task force will meet every two weeks to discuss factors contributing to chronic absenteeism such as food scarcity, health and safety and transportation. Actions for school divisions to effectively address the biggest barriers will be developed to reduce chronic absenteeism. The task force may identify any regulatory hurdles prohibiting best practices from scaling to meet communities’ needs.

“Coming to school everyday matters,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons. “As I have met with superintendents across the Commonwealth, they have asked us to work with them to make sure the message is clear: kids need to be in school.”

After each task force session, the DOE will push out practical solutions to all superintendents for immediate implementation and awareness. Solutions will be posted to the department’s ALL IN VA webpage and on social media.

Virginia’s Standard of Learning scores demonstrate that student achievement remains well below pre-pandemic levels.

The Chronic Absenteeism Task Force includes:

  • Dr. Keith Perrigan, Washington County Public Schools Superintendent and President of the Coalition of Small and Rural Schools of Virginia
  • Dr. Michelle Mitchell, Newport News City Public Schools Superintendent
  • Dr. Doug Straley, Louisa County Public Schools Superintendent
  • Dr. Clint Mitchell, Colonial Beach Public Schools Superintendent
  • Dr. Chip Jones, Cumberland County Public Schools Superintendent
  • Scott Vermillion, Gate City High School Principal
  • Chris Johnson, Prince George County Public Schools Governing Board Member
  • Faith Mabe, Washington-Lee Elementary School Principal
  • Tian Olson, Parent
  • Marco Callender, YMCA of Greater Richmond Executive Director
  • Dr. Sandy Chung, American Academy of Pediatrics President and Trusted Doctors CEO

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.