A Chicago Tribune investigation analyzed internal student-level attendance data from the Chicago Public Schools and found that nearly 32,000 K-8 grade students — or roughly 1 in 8 — missed four weeks or more of class during the 2010-11 year, while the cash-strapped district does little to stem a devastating problem. To assess the total number of missed classroom days per student, the Tribune analyzed both excused and unexcused absences, as well as gaps in enrollment. The paper found striking racial disparities in elementary attendance. Youth with learning and emotional disabilities also missed far more school. The district's official attendance statistics obscure the depth of the problem because officials are required to count a child as absent only if he or she is actively enrolled.
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