Report Shows Racial Divide Among Colorado Kids’ School Attendance

A national report shows Colorado has the widest gap in the country between the number of days black 4th graders are absent from school compared to white 4th graders.

Nineteen percent of white 4th graders were absent three days or more in the month prior to national tests. That compares to 32 percent of Colorado’s black fourth graders.

"A lot these absences are excused absences, not unexcused," said Hedy Chang with the non-profit Attendance Works. "Many can be caused by health-related challenges or understandable challenges such as transportation and challenging housing situations."

Asthma, dental problems and mental health issues related to trauma and community violence fuel chronic absenteeism particularly among low-income students. Attendance Works recommends schools start tracking chronic absenteeism, not just unexcused absences and partner with community organizations to create school-based health clinics.