Child Health

Ohio Students Are Spending Too Much Time Out of School According to New State and County Profiles


December 20, 2018

Tracy Nájera, Executive Director

Nikki Thomas, Manager, Research and Data


Ohio Students Are Spending Too Much Time Out of School According to New State and County Profiles

COLUMBUS – Too many Ohio students are missing school according to the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio’s 2018 State and County Factsheets, released today. The profiles reveal chronic absenteeism as a major problem with 16% of students throughout the state being chronically absent from school.

The chronic absenteeism rate was above 30%—which is considered extreme—in 17 Ohio school districts. Columbus City, Lorain City, and East Cleveland City experienced the highest rates in the state, each with more than 40% of their students being chronically absent.

Nationally, just under 8 million students were chronically absent in the 2015-16 school year. That is an increase of a million or more students who have been absent 10% or more of the school year since the last national count in 2013-14 despite efforts from states and districts to address the issue.

Chronic absenteeism is typically a symptom of larger issues both in and outside of the school building. Studies have shown that contributing factors are social anxiety, fear of bullying, and feelings of being unwelcomed or unwanted in the school. For many low income students, the problem becomes more complex with health related issues, housing insecurity, and lack of transportation being contributing factors.

Academically, chronic absenteeism is associated with lower achievement rates in reading and math for younger students and core course failure and school dropouts for older students.

“While we appreciate the considerable efforts from our state, local districts, and communities to implement new state truancy laws and address more student needs, we recognize that, as a matter of child well-being and addressing the needs of the whole child, we have to do more to support our students holistically and make sure our schools are a welcoming place for all,” says Tracy Nájera, Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio Executive Director. “We applaud the Ohio Department of Education’s recognition of social emotional learning, student engagement, and school climate in their Strategic Plan, Each Child Our Future.  It’s critical that we address issues of child well-being like childhood trauma, school climate, and student engagement to support well-being and successful transitions to adulthood for all children.”

In addition to education data, the 2018 State and County Factsheets offer a snapshot of child well-being for all 88 Ohio counties on a variety of other indicators including child poverty, median family income, child care, teen births, and infant mortality, among others. The Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio is the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT grantee for the State of Ohio and the Factsheet data can also be accessed through the KIDS COUNT Data Center.

The 2018 State and County Factsheet release runs alongside the release of Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio’s 2018 Report Understanding and Addressing the Changing Needs of Ohio Families and their Children, also being released this week. The report provides a deep dive into the data, analysis and policy recommendations on education, child health, child welfare, gender and equity issues, and family economic well-being.

“We are optimistic that our annual State and County Factsheets will continue to inform our communities about the variety of issues facing our children and families and push our leaders and state and local agencies to continuously improve the detail, quality and usefulness of our state data,” says Nájera.


The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.