State Leaders Remain Focused on Closing Skills Gap in Iowa Schools

State leaders are trying to close the skills gap in Iowa schools, and say it starts with preventing "chronic absenteeism."

The term is defined as missing 10 percent or more of school days for any reason, excused or unexcused.

Leaders say students who do so aren't proficient in reading by the end of the third grade. Right now, that's nearly a quarter of Iowa students.

"Chronic absence in the earliest grades affects low-income families the most," said Hedy Chang of Attendance Works. "You do have some affluent families like their kids miss out on kindergarten. But have you ever seen an affluent family who's kid isn't reading by first or second grade?"

Leaders will meet again next month, then recommend how to address the issue in November.