CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WMBD) — The Illinois State Board of Education released its report card last week, showing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on schools across the state.

“Attendance is critical,” said Peoria County Regional Superintendent Beth Crider. “Having the child at school, healthy and ready to learn is the single biggest determinant of whether or not they’re going to graduate high school.”

The report shows not all Illinois kids are in school during the pandemic.

“Everyone in K-12 education was really concerned about student engagement and keeping kids engaged during the pandemic,” said Mark Jontry, the regional superintendent covering McLean, DeWitt, Logan, and Livingston counties.

The ISBE report card shows 70,000 fewer students enrolled in public schools across the state. One in five students was chronically absent last year too.

“With COVID, we just saw a lot of students missing more than that threshold of about 10 days,” said Crider.

It’s a problem local school leaders are working to fix.

“Our ongoing strategy has been, finding families no matter how long they’ve been gone from school,” said Crider.

The rate of ninth-graders on track to graduate is also down five percent since 2019.

“It’s really the key to them successfully graduating on time,” said Jontry.

The rate of teachers who stayed in the profession went up 1.4 percent over 2020. Yet, Crider said there’s still a shortage of staff.

“It’s not just teachers now. We’re experiencing shortages in all areas of education,” said Crider.

Now, leaders are using this information to move forward.

“It shows that we have a lot of opportunities for growth,” said Crider.

The ISBE doesn’t compare most of its data points to 2020 because, during the pandemic, some of the information could not accurately be collected.