HONOLULU — A national study shows that lower test scores for Hawaii fourth- and eighth-graders are linked to poor attendance.
Hawaii public school students who reported missing three days or more in a month scored significantly lower on reading and math tests than those who reported no absences in the month before the test, according to the study released Tuesday by Attendance Works, a national initiative aimed at reducing chronic school absenteeism.
Hawaii’s scoring differences are among the highest in the nation, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. Twenty-three percent of Hawaii fourth-graders and 24 percent of eighth-graders reported being absent from school three of more days in the month before the test. Nationally, the rates were 19 percent and 20 percent, respectively.
A key finding of the study is that there was a 19-point difference in Hawaii’s fourth-grade math scores between students who reported three or more absences and those reporting none. The newspaper reported that was the highest point difference in the nation — higher than the national average of 13 points.
There was a 17-point difference for fourth-grade reading, a 22-point difference for eighth-grade math and a 15-point difference for eighth-grade reading.
The study examined absenteeism in relation to the 2013 National Assessment for Educational Progress, known as NAEP.
“It’s clear if kids are missing too many days, they are scoring lower on the NAEP, a marker for student achievement,” said Phyllis Jordan, spokeswoman for Attendance Works and a co-author of the study.
Nationally, as many as 7.5 million students miss a month of school each year, the report said. By sixth grade, poor attendance is a leading indicator that a child will drop out of high school, according to the organization.
Chronic absenteeism is a problem that Hawaii’s Department of Education is trying to fix. The state reduced its chronic absenteeism rate among elementary schools last school year to 11 percent from 18 percent the year before.