- Due to the change in definition outlined below, habitual truancy statistics beginning with the 1998-99 school year are not comparable to those from years prior. Because the current definition is more rigid than the former, most districts saw a rise in the habitual truancy rate between school years 1997-98 and 1998-99.
- If 2004-2005 truancy rates for your district are much higher or lower than expected, then the likely cause is 2004-2005 student enrollment counts that don't reflect the district's full story. Major changes in WI student data collection systems were implemented in 2004-05. 2004-05 student enrollment counts were included in this transition year collection and are not comprehensive. If reported 2004-05 enrollment counts are higher or lower than actual counts, then truancy rates will be lower or higher than actual rates. This is because the truancy rate is the number of habitual truants divided by the K-12 enrollment. For more information, see cautions about the 2004-05 ISES enrollment data.
- In April 2013, a fix was implemented to resolve errors in 2010-11 truancy rates by grade. Truancy rates by grade that were downloaded or viewed before April 2013 are not reliable.
Beginning with the 1998-99 school year, the state law defining habitual truancy was changed. The result was a simplified, yet more stringent rule for counting habitual truants. The two definitions of "habitual truant" are as follows:
Prior to 1998-99: A student who is absent from school without an acceptable excuse [s.118.16(4) and s.118.15 Wis. Stats.] for part or all of five or more days out of 10 consecutive days on which school is held during a semester or part or all of 10 or more days on which school is held during a school semester.
Beginning with 1998-99: A student who is absent from school without an acceptable excuse [s.118.16(4) and s.118.15 Wis. Stats.] for part or all of five or more days on which school is held during a semester. This definition is found in 118.16(1)(a), Wis. Stats.
Habitual truants are reported for (5-year-old) kindergarten through grade 12. Note in particular that a habitual truant student enrolled in 5-year-old kindergarten, regardless of age, is reported as any other habitual truants would be.
Regardless of definition, the habitual truancy rate is calculated by dividing the number of habitual truants by K-12 enrollment, and expressing the quotient as a percentage.
Can I compare one district's habitual truancy rate with another district's?
Yes. However, it is important to remember two key points:
- Each district establishes its own policy for excused absences. So what is excused in one district might be unexcused in another (i.e., family trips, deer hunting, absences without written permission).
- Schools may define "part of a day" in the definition of habitual truant (above) differently. For example, one district might state that any time unexcused over 15 minutes is "part of a day," whereas another district might define "part of a day" as 3 or more hours.
Counts of habitual truants by grade, by gender, and by race/ethnicity come from the School Performance Report Collection.
Enrollment counts (used as the denominator in calculating trancy rates) come from the following sources:
- Prior to 2004-05, enrollment counts came from the PI 1290 fall enrollment collection.
- Beginning with 2004-05, enrollment counts are based on data collected by the Individual Student Enrollment System (ISES).
For more information about the WINSS Data Analysis Section, see Data Analysis Section - Frequently Asked Questions and/or Tips for First-time Users of the Data Analysis Section
Habitual Truancy data are reported annually by public schools through the School Performance Report (SPR).
See the Data Errata page for corrections submitted by school districts after final publication of WINSS and other reports.
Related Web Pages:
- Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Compulsory School Attendance
- Admissions and Early Entrance to Kindergarten (includes information about compulsory school attendance)
For questions about this information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org (608) 267-3166