More than 38% of students in the Clark County (Nevada) district were chronically absent in 2022-23

March 21, 2024
Chronic absenteeism has plagued school districts across the country since the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than a third of the students in the Clark County (Nevada) School District were chronically absent from school during in 2022-2023, the state Department of Education says.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the 38.3% rate is a slight improvement from the prior school year’s 40.6%, but it’s still much higher than the district’s pre-pandemic chronic absenteeism rate of 21.9%.

Clark County is the nation's fifth-largest district; it has about 300,000 students.

Chronic absenteeism — when a student misses at least 10% of total instruction days — has plagued school districts across the country since the COVID-19 pandemic led to campuses closing and a pivot to remote instruction.

There isn’t a simple answer — or solution — to persistent chronic absenteeism, state and local education officials told lawmakers at a hearing of the legislature's Joint Interim Standing Committee on Education.

Mike Barton, the district's Chief College, Career and Equity Officer, says Clark County has identified five factors contributing to absenteeism, including a sense of belonging, difficulties with physical or mental health, basic needs not being met, child care and academic gaps.

A school’s environment, including safety, parental involvement, transportation issues and school policies, can also influence absenteeism, says Autumn Rivera, an education policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Christopher Kearney, who chairs the Department of Psychology at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, says Chronic absenteeism isn’t just an indicator of a student’s academic success. Absences can serve as an early warning sign of a child’s health.

“Absenteeism really is an early warning signal for a variety of problems in areas of functioning in children, adolescents — academic functioning, mental health functioning, physical health, social emotional health,” Kearney said. “It’s a great way to sort of track early problems, because it’s a great benchmark that schools have at their disposal as sort of this early warning signal.”

The Clark County district has embarked on an “Every Day Matters” campaign to combat absenteeism.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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