Report: Tens of 1000’s of Illinois college students didn’t attend faculty final fall in Illinois

Early estimates by state officials show tens of thousands of Illinois students were out of school in 2020.

When the school year started last fall, a survey by the Illinois State Board of Education found that 921,000 students would be offered only virtual learning instead of an open classroom due to widespread COVID-19 infections.

ISBE recently announced preliminary attendance numbers showing that as of October 1st, an astounding number of students simply did not show up for class.

ISBE Research and Evaluation Director Brenda Dixon’s presentation showed an estimated loss of 35,822 public school students. This corresponds to almost 2% of the previous year’s enrollment.

“That’s almost double the expected decline,” said Melissa Figueira, senior policy associate at Advance Illinois.

Figueira’s organization has proposed that the state cancel the summer break to help students catch up on the learning losses resulting from the pandemic and school closings.

Of the more than 35,000 absent students, an estimated 10,069 were kindergarten teachers. The school age in Illinois is 6 years through September 1, which could result in some parents keeping their children home for the year.

Schools that lost the most students were at both ends of the financial scale. ISBE found that schools with 55% or more low-income students lost about as much as schools with less than 30% low-income students.

Geographically, the counties with the highest absentee rates are spread across rural Illinois. Wayne, Edwards, and Wabash, three neighboring counties in southern Illinois, had the highest absentee rates. Each had between 7 and 9 percent.

The school district with the largest percentage of absent students was Crescent Iroquois CUSD 249, a small rural district with fewer than 100 students. The data showed a 24% drop in visitor numbers.

The consequences of a lost year could be far-reaching. A study by McKinsey and Co. estimated that even with distance learning, the average student could lose $ 61,000 to $ 82,000 in lifelong income or the equivalent of a year of full-time work due to COVID-19-related learning alone.

ISBE estimates that more than 130,000 students will not be offered face-to-face learning by Tuesday. A map of these purely virtual counties shows that they are focused on the areas in southern Cook County and Metro East that are mostly black and low-income.

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