At this point, students in Oak Park Elementary School District 97 have spent roughly half the year out of the classroom and learning remotely at home, but apparently the drastic change in circumstances hasn’t affected student attendance much. 

According to the most recent data released by the district last month, the district-wide attendance rate between Sept. 1 and Oct. 31 was 93.1 percent. During the same period of time in 2019, D97’s student attendance rate was 91.5 percent. 

The attendance rate among white, Black, Asian, Hispanic and multirace students through Oct. 31 was 95.2 percent, 86 percent, 97.9 percent, 91.3 percent and 93.6 percent, respectively.

The latest data shows an increase across every ethnic group. Last year at this time, attendance among those ethnic groups was 90.9 percent, 85.3 percent, 94.2 percent, 87.8 percent and 89.6 percent, respectively. 

According to a statement attached to each attendance report, D97 utilizes “the Illinois best practice ‘Time to Day’ automated calculation when taking daily attendance,” with the Illinois School Code tying attendance to “instructional minutes per grade level.

“The state’s requirement for instructional minutes may mean that a child arriving very late or leaving very early from school will be counted as absent,” the statement explains. “The ‘Time to Day’ calculation simplifies this process by allowing the school to enter the time of day students arrive late or leave early to automatically calculate their attendance for that day. The district’s middle schools do not utilize this calculation because they take attendance each class period.” 

Attendance in the district is taken each day by teachers and denoted in a student information system called PowerSchool. 

The factors behind this year’s slightly improved attendance data aren’t clear. D97 officials weren’t available this week to comment on remote learning attendance. More as this story develops. 


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