Some CPS high schools report nearly half of students absent during remote learning

ByRoss Weidner and Jonathan Fagg WLS logo
Saturday, March 6, 2021
Some CPS high schools say attendance is half during remote learning
An ABC7 I-Team data investigation has found several Chicago Public High Schools where nearly half of the students are not showing up for remote learning.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- An ABC7 I-Team data investigation has found several Chicago Public High Schools where nearly half of the students are not showing up for remote learning.

According to CPS attendance data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, districtwide, K-8 schools had better attendance than high schools so far this school year. K-8 schools averaged 92% attendance while an average of 81% of CPS high school students were in attendance.

"Some of our young people are caring for younger siblings so they are trying to do their work and also care for siblings while parents are not in the home," said Jamey Makowski, BUILD Chicago.

Some schools have had struggles with attendance during remote learning and fell far below the district average for attendance rate. Manley Career Academy High School in East Garfield Park averaged 57% attendance. Frederick Douglass Academy High School in Austin averaged 60%. Both Spry Community Links High School in Little Village and Hirsch Metropolitan High School in Greater Grand Crossing averaged 61% attendance.

"We are literally losing our youth. We can get our young scholars back in the building, how many are willing to go back," said Dar'tavous Dorsey, UChicago Crime Lab & Education Lab.

Austin College and Career Academy High School averaged only 44% attendance this school year, according to CPS data analyzed by the I-Team.

Germaine Pullen's son is a senior at Austin College & Career Academy, and he said the school's low remote learning attendance rate isn't surprising.

"I have actually watched mine just be out of it. It is like they are trying to get into it, but it's not the same thing," Pullen said.

CPS officials acknowledge attendance issues during remote learning, writing in a statement:

"Since schools closed nearly one year ago, the district has distributed computers, provided free internet access, improved its remote learning structure and invested tens of millions of dollars to support both learning models. While the district will continue to seek continuous improvement, remote learning will never be comparable to classroom-based learning - no matter how many improvements or additional investments are made. The disparate academic and attendance outcomes highlight the urgent need to continue expanding in-person learning options to additional families and continue to provide additional holistic support to students."

Those who work with young people and look at education policy expressed concern that some students could be checked out for good.

"We all have to come together to grapple with how we can address what took place because of the pandemic with these students, especially with the students of color," said Dorsey.

"Boy, do we have a long road ahead of us. We have some hard work," said Makowski.