More Fort Bend ISD high school students are tardy or skipping class, according to a recent discipline report. The report, which was presented to the FBISD board of trustees during the Jan. 22 board meeting, shows the district's high school enrollment for the fall 2023 semester was 26,587, up slightly from the fall 2022 enrollment of 26,338.

Of those, the percentage of high school students tardy or skipping class reached 29% in fall 2023, compared to 23.6% in fall 2022—an increase from 6,218 to 7,710 students— according to FBISD data.

The details

Students being tardy or skipping classes carries a financial impact, as it can contribute to the district's average daily attendance, or ADA, allotment from the state, FBISD officials said in an email.

Texas schools receive $6,160 per student under the state’s basic allotment, which is based on the ADA.

If a student is skipping or tardy to the class where the official attendance count is taken, which at the high school level it is 10 a.m. during third period, they would be marked absent, which can decrease state funding, FBISD officials said.

According to district officials:
  • From August-December 2022, FBISD received $32.50 per student per class day.
  • From August-December 2023, FBISD received $35.61 per student per class day.
The district could have missed out on as much as $75,000 in state funding for those semesters based on the recent tardy or skipping data, officials said in the email.

The impact

In Texas, if a student is absent, they are not counted for the day as part of the ADA, according to the Texas Education Agency, as previously reported.

The TEA requires districts to calculate the average daily attendance as follows:
  • Taking the sum of attendance counts
  • Dividing that by the number of school days
For funding purposes, students who are frequently absent are not counted at all, which subtracts from the amount of funding the school receives, according to the TEA.

Diving in deeper

Education nonprofit Children at Risk’s September 2020 report showed chronic absences cost districts significant losses of funding each year.

For example, it cites Houston ISD’s annual loss of approximately $22.3 million in funding for every 1% reduction in ADA.

In addition, chronic absenteeism, which the state says is when students attend less than 90% of school days, decreases the likelihood that a student will graduate on time, which districts are held accountable for by the TEA, according to its Research and Analysis Division.

The TEA studies the following performance metrics for public schools it governs in the state:
  • Accounting for students
  • Annual dropout rates
  • Longitudinal graduation rates
  • Graduation/dropout rate accountability
  • Resources
  • Regional performance
In turn, that delay or failure to receive a diploma also negatively impacts the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s strategic plan known as 60x30 that seeks to ensure 60% of Texans ages 25-34 will attain a certificate or degree, according to the THECB. The plan’s time frame to reach that mark is 2030.

What else?

The state’s absenteeism findings mirror that of a U.S. Department of Education report updated in January 2019 that says roughly 1 in 5 students were chronically absent in the past decade, reflecting a national trend that has grown more pronounced in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a 2022 Council of Economic Advisors report, the number of public school students in the U.S. who are chronically absent has nearly doubled from roughly 15% in the 2019 to around 30% in 2022.

The council was established by Congress in 1946 and is charged with advising the president on economic policy based on data, research and evidence.