Some 6.5 million students—13 percent of all those enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools—were chronically absent in 2013-14.
At the high school level, the rate of chronic absenteeism—missing 15 or more school days—was even higher—18 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education's 2013-14 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), which was released this week.
This year's collection is the first time the CRDC, which is released every two years, contained statistics on absenteeism. The report is based on data from more than 95,000 public schools and more than 50 million students.
The report found that students in some racial and ethnic groups were more likely to be chronically absent. In high schools, 26 percent of American Indian or Alaska Native, 25 percent of Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, 22 percent of black, 21 percent of multiracial, and 20 percent of Latino students were chronically absent in 2013-14.
High school students with disabilities are 1.3 times as likely to be chronically absent as high school students without disabilities, and 20 percent of all English learner high school students are chronically absent.
At the elementary level, American Indian or Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander elementary school students are twice as likely to be chronically absent as white elementary school students; black elementary school students are 1.4 times as likely to be chronically absent as white elementary school students; and elementary school students with disabilities are 1.5 times as likely to be chronically absent as elementary school students without disabilities.
An Associated Press analysis of the data found that Washington, D.C., had the highest rate of chronic absenteeism—31.5 percent; Florida was the state with the least chronic absenteeism—4.5 percent.
The report notes that to combat absenteeism, the Department of Education, along with other federal agencies, launched a program in 2015 called Every Student, Every Day.
In addition to statistics about absenteeism, The CRDC data also showed that disparities continue to exist among certain categories of students with regard to discipline, access to advanced courses, and teaching and staff equity.
"The CRDC data are more than numbers and charts—they illustrate in powerful and troubling ways disparities in opportunities and experiences that different groups of students have in our schools," Education Secretary John B. King Jr. says in a news release.