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Native Students Chronically Absent From Wyoming Schools

One in three Native students in Wyoming is chronically absent from school, which may contribute to poor academic achievement and high dropout rates, according to a story by NPR.

School districts that serve large percentages of students from Wyoming's American Indian reservations have some of the lowest attendance rates in the state, despite the fact that parents can be fined or charged with educational neglect when their children miss school. Some districts have started to send employees out to find students and escort them to school in an attempt to boost attendance rates, but those employees are often fighting years of general mistrust.

Other states like Oregon also struggle with Native absenteeism. A story published by The Oregonian in October found that about 30 percent of Oregon's Native students failed to attend at least 90 percent of school days, compared to the state average of 17 percent.

Native students at all schools, including those run by the Bureau of Indian Education, lag their peers in achievement and graduation. Only 67 percent of Native American students graduate in four years, compared to 86 percent of white students, and 88 percent of Asian and Pacific Islander students. Students at BIE schools had only a 53 percent graduation rate during the 2011-12 school year, an 8 percentage point drop from the previous year. A 2014 study by ECONorthwest and the Chalkboard Project found that achievement can be hampered by absenteeism, among other factors.

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