Illinois law defines “chronic truant” as a student who misses 5% of school days within an academic year without a valid excuse. That’s nine days of an average 180-day school year. Chronic truants are at risk for both academic and behavioral problems. Research shows that chronic truancy has been linked to serious delinquent activity in youth and to significant negative behavior and characteristics in adults.
Why should you care about truancy?
- Parents can face a Class C Misdemeanor for having a chronically truant student. If found guilty, the parent could face up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.
- Children can’t learn if they aren’t present in school.
- Parents, especially in the early years, are best positioned to ensure children attend school and to build the expectation around attendance.
- Chronic absence in Kindergarten is associated with lower academic performance in 1st grade among all children and, for poor children, predicts the lowest levels of educational achievement at the end of 5th grade.
- By 6th grade, missing 20% of school is a critical warning sign of school drop-out.
- By 9th grade, missing 20% of school can be a better predictor of drop-out than 8th grade test scores.
Dropouts include students in grades 9-12 whose names have been removed for any reason, including moved not known to be continuing, transfer to GED-program, and aged out. The dropout rate does not include death, extended illness, graduation/completion of a program of studies, transfer to another public/private/home school, or expulsion.
The most significant disadvantage high school dropouts face is lower expected income. Without a high school diploma, a person will find enrolling in a college or trade school to be difficult or even impossible. The increased likelihood of low income, along with the lowered possibility of higher education and career opportunities, tends to make high school dropouts more susceptible to crime, substance abuse, and other characteristics of poverty.
Why should you care about dropouts?
- The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that dropouts earn $10,000 less each year than a high school graduate.
- Lifetime earnings of a high school dropout are $260,000 than peers who earn a diploma.
- The poverty rate for dropouts is more than twice as high as college graduates, and the unemployment rate is generally 4% higher than the national average.
- It’s estimated half of all Americans on public assistance are dropouts.
- More than 80% of the incarcerated population are high school dropouts and 22% of people jailed in the U.S. are black males who are high school dropouts.