Nearly one in five Ohio school students was chronically absent and the number of missed class time doubles for children living in economically struggling homes.

The data was released Thursday by the Ohio Department of Education.

The state found that 16.4 percent of Ohio students are chronically absent. The state defines a student as chronically absent when he or she misses 10 percent of their school days.

The absentee rate is 2.5 times greater for children in economically disadvantaged homes. The state found that a quarter of African-America students are chronically absent. About one-third of high school seniors were also found to be chronically absent.

Absenteeism is due to several factors include health, safety and bullying, the state said. Absenteeism causes lower grades and fewer graduations.

Recent changes imposed by Ohio legislators is aimed at curbing absentee rates, the state said.