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10 hours ago
When students miss school, they fall behind. Here’s how one group is curbing absenteeism.
Agape, a Memphis nonprofit, works with students at Whitney Achievement Elementary and 15 other schools to help students with attendance and behavior.
September 7, 2018
As Griffin battles low enrollment in Tennessee’s state district, she looks to a school with a waitlist
The Achievement School District is looking to Westwood Elementary to help her find answers to one of the state district’s longtime issues: lack of students.
Back to school
September 4, 2018
Newark officials deliver a message to students on first day: Keep showing up
Newark officials hope to improve the district's attendance rate and combat chronic absenteeism this school year.
February 14, 2018
With clean clothes, this Detroit school sees a new attitude and improved attendance
Last year, administrators at the A.L. Holmes Academy of Blended Learning struggled to get children to come to school every day. More than…
November 30, 2017
As districts across the country try to drive down absenteeism, New York City leads the way
New York City began attacking chronic absenteeism a decade ago. Now, the de Blasio administration has made it a central focus of its school-turnaround program.
November 6, 2017
Stolen trucks, younger siblings and Halloween worries: A social worker tackles student absences one at a time
In a bid to get kids to come to school regularly and avoid the drop-out track, some Denver schools use lots of carrots and a few sticks.
October 3, 2017
Student absences are about to have higher stakes in most states. Will cheating follow?
It’s unclear if most states have systems in place to accurately monitor absenteeism data at all.
September 6, 2017
Getting immigrant students to show up at Memphis schools was already hard. Ending DACA makes it harder.
Even before President Trump announced plans to end protections for young undocumented immigrants, fear of deportation has been a problem within Memphis schools.
April 20, 2017
Counting attendance in school ratings could be smart — or completely misleading
Joshua Starr asks the real question: What are schools doing to create good reasons for students to attend?
December 15, 2016
Chronic absenteeism is lower in New York City charter schools than in district schools, report finds
“I think attendance is a measure of school culture and school quality more than anything else."
September 21, 2016
Why it’s hard to get students to come to class — and what one Memphis school is doing about it
High rates of mobility and poverty are among hurdles that stand in the way of getting to school in Memphis, where chronic absenteeism is a major challenge.
September 6, 2016
New York City among districts with high student absenteeism
Half of all chronically-absent students were concentrated in 4 percent of school districts, including New York City, according to a report by Attendance Works.
November 11, 2015
How New York City is using Google Drive to revamp its struggling schools
The city is hoping that an easy-to-use tool built with Google Drive will enable struggling schools to make new use of student data.
The doctor is in
October 5, 2015
Big year for school-based health in Colorado
The new clinic at Denver's Florence Crittenton High School is one of five new school-based health centers in the state and the first to offer obstetric services.
September 8, 2015
As pre-K ranks grow again, city puts new focus on those who are absent
New York City is close to its goal of offering a pre-K seat to every four-year-old. Making sure that most of those seats are full every day is another challenge.
August 26, 2015
Memphis leaders tell students to ‘be present!’ while launching school attendance campaign
Addressing a chronic problem that drains both critical learning time and valuable state funding, community leaders in Memphis launch a campaign targeting student absenteeism.
December 16, 2014
Citing NYC as a model, state moves to track ‘chronically absent’ students
State officials wants districts to pay more attention to students who are frequently absent, and they are pointing to New York City’s efforts to spot and support such students as a model.
April 28, 2014
The city’s attendance system is inefficient—and I’ve seen a better way
After moving from Philadelphia to New York City, a teacher argues that the city's pencil-and-paper attendance system is wildly inefficient.
February 21, 2013
Return of yellow school buses brings relief and new challenges
Assistant teacher Miguelina Valeria takes attendance as students exit the bus at Manhattan's P721 Wednesday. Five weeks ago, what happened at P721 in Manhattan on Wednesday would not have seemed extraordinary: Yellow buses pulled up by the main entrance and assistant teacher Miguelina Valerio took attendance and greeted students as they headed into school. But after a bus drivers' strike that lasted over a month, the yellow buses marked the end of nightmarish commutes for many parents and, for many students with special needs, a long-awaited return to class. P721 is a District 75 school that provides occupational training to high school students. During the strike, Valerio said, only 70 or 80 students came to school each day out of a student body of 200. “More than half the students were missing,” she said. “Little by little they’re coming back.”
February 8, 2013
Comments of the week: what to count and what to let go
This week, commenters debated whether attendance should count in middle school admissions, students should spend school days in Albany, and new academic standards for student athletes will help or hurt students and schools. A Remainders link to a parent and child psychologist's article on why school attendance shouldn't be used to screen students for selective middle and high schools sparked a conversation about what role attendance plays in academic performance and whose responsibility it is to get students to school. A.S. Neill also wrote in favor of taking absences into account, arguing that they pose problems for individual students and for their schools: Whatever the reasons for excessive absences in elementary school, by middle and high school, these students become problems for schools both because it lowers their rating scores, and they require extraordinary efforts to correct the deficiencies in their lagging education, often unsuccessful. As such, they pose difficulties for other students in the classroom as well, which is why parents know to try to get their kids in schools where the "good" students are.
January 16, 2013
Even as some buses roll, families struggle on strike's first day
Kayley, a student at Central Park East 2 (with head turned), traveled to school with his mother today. He took a city bus instead of a yellow bus because of a strike by school bus drivers. Families across the city contended with unfamiliar transportation routes, incomplete information, and bad weather to get their children to school this morning, the first during a strike called by the bus drivers union. Most bus drivers did not report to work today to protest the city's decision not to extend seniority protections to current drivers when opening bids for new contracts with bus companies. Their union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181, also picketed outside some bus depots, in some cases briefly impeding non-union bus companies from operating, and released a television ad that paints new bus drivers as dangerous. But the Department of Education said 40 percent of buses actually did roll today, including 100 percent of routes serving children in prekindergarten. Those bus drivers work under contracts negotiated last year. Just 12 percent of routes for students in general education were running today, while 60 percent of routes serving students with special needs were disrupted. Preliminary data showed strong attendance citywide, Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced at a city press conference where he praised parents for "being really focused on getting their kids to school." But he said attendance at District 75 schools, which serve the city's most disabled students, was down by about a quarter today.
November 13, 2012
As schools stabilize, some students and supplies still missing
Council members Christine Quinn and Domenic Recchia hand out school supplies to students at I.S. 281 in Bensonhurst (Credit: William Alatriste) If today's attendance figures were a test of how well the city's schools are rebounding from Hurricane Sandy, as Chancellor Dennis Walcott said they would be last week, then the city scored a 91 percent overall. Even as 34 city schools remain unmoored from their damaged buildings, thousands more students showed up for classes today for the first time since the schools closed in October. At the same time, charitable efforts are shifting their focus toward replenishing those schools with basic supplies—most recently through a million dollar campaign, launched today, to supply students with backpacks and other supplies. The city's overall attendance rate is climbing, but schools in the areas that the hurricane hit the hardest are still struggling to fill their rosters. Of the fifteen schools that returned to their original buildings today, after relocating a week ago, Department of Education officials said about 77 percent showed up on average. And among the 37 relocated schools, two-thirds of students showed up—double the percentage from last week.
November 9, 2012
Ten schools to return home on Tuesday as recovery proceeds
After another day with abysmal attendance figures at dozens of schools relocated because of Hurricane Sandy, the Department of Education has its sights set on next week. "I think Tuesday [will be] the best barometer of how well we're doing," Chancellor Dennis Walcott said Thursday night as he fielded questions about the department's steady but logistically complicated progress in getting students in storm-battered areas back in school. More than 40 schools will still be housed in temporary relocations when classes resume after the Veteran's Day holiday — the seventh day the city's schools will have been closed since Sandy struck Oct. 28. But for the first time, the department will be able to provide bus service to elementary and middle school students in all of them, and new generators mean that some schools will reopen in their own buildings. The seven schools that received generators are all on the Rockaway Peninsula, which is served by a power company that has drawn fire for not restoring power quickly enough. Another Rockaways school that is reopening did have its power restored this week, but the Long Island Power Authority now says some customers on the peninsula will not see their power come back on until after Thanksgiving, or more than two weeks from now. Attendance in relocated schools has been very low — 36.9 percent today, up from 30 percent on Thursday — and schools on the Rockaway peninsula have had the fewest students show up, with attendance remaining around 4 percent at some schools today.
November 7, 2012
Attendance is low as storm-battered schools reopen in new sites
Channel View School for Research's Craig Dorsi greets students who arrived at their host school this morning. Thursday will mark a milestone in New York City's recovery from Hurricane Sandy: All public schools will be open for the first time, Chancellor Dennis Walcott confirmed this afternoon. But if today's attendance figures are any guide, students from the most storm-battered areas likely won't be there. Today, 43 schools in heavily damaged buildings opened for the first time in new sites, some many miles away. Another 25 of the city's 1,750 schools remained closed because they had no power or because the city had been using them as shelters. But for the vast majority of schools, today approximated a regular school day. Citywide, student attendance today at schools that submitted attendance reports was 87 percent, according to the Department of Education, and 95 percent of teachers reported for duty. Mayor Bloomberg called the attendance rates "encouragingly high" during a news conference this afternoon. But at most, 43 percent of students in relocated schools made it to their new sites as the city struggled to roll out new bus routes for tens of thousands of students. Some relocated schools drew far more students than others. Two selective schools in Lower Manhattan, Bard High School Early College and Millennium High School, each posted attendance rates over 95 percent in their first day in temporary sites. Several schools based in storm-battered Far Rockaway, on the other hand, had less than 10 percent of students show up today.
the truant chase
September 12, 2012
More students get attendance mentors in program’s third year
After testing a range of strategies to combat truancy, the city is settling on one that’s close to home: matching students with a mentor within their…
December 5, 2011
Anti-truancy initiative brings peer group mentoring to Marta Valle
Marta Valle High School seniors and freshmen participating in Peer Group Connection last week When Andy Rodriguez and Shanique Josephs told 15 Marta Valle High School freshmen last week that only half of all black and Hispanic students graduate from high school, the room grew quiet. “That means half of you guys probably won’t graduate — according to statistics," Josephs said. "How does that make you feel?" Rodriguez and Josephs were very much trying to teach the freshmen in front of them, but they are not teachers. They are two of 24 Marta Valle seniors participating in Peer Group Connection, a mentoring program run by the Princeton Center for Leadership Training. Used by more than 150 schools across the country, the program has so far been used in New York City only by elite private schools, such as Spence and Dalton. The program came to Marta Valle, the first city public school to adopt it, through Mayor Bloomberg's year-old Interagency Task Force on Truancy, Chronic Absenteeism and School Engagement. (Washington Irving High School will start using Peer Group Connection next semester.) “We’ve been doing this program for so long in elite private schools so we love being able to mirror that experience for students in more high-need communities,” said Margo Ross, PCLT’s senior director of development. While the range of schools have different needs — and adjust their mentoring curriculum accordingly — the essence of the model remains the same. PGC calls for select seniors to enroll in a full-year, credit-bearing course which meets daily and trains them to be peer leaders. The course is co-taught by two teachers who have gotten special training. Once a week the seniors visit freshmen advisories for an “outreach class” in which they lead activities and discussions about relevant topics such as graduation, goal-setting, and decision-making. Seniors get credits towards graduation and a sense of responsibility. Freshmen get peer role models and help making the tough transition into high school — something that experts say is essential to keep them from dropping out.
October 31, 2011
Repeating a Halloween pattern, students skipped school today
Attendance was down at schools across the city today, an annual Halloween phenomenon that teachers said is driven by rumors of gang violence. Eighty-two percent of students came to school today citywide, well below the average daily rate of 92 percent, according to preliminary attendance data posted on the Department of Education's website. Attendance was lowest at high schools and in pockets of Brooklyn and the Bronx. At several schools where daily attendance averages about 75 percent, including Banana Kelly High School and Lehman High School in the Bronx, only about 40 percent of students showed up today. Assemblyman Karim Camara told GothamSchools that parents reported low attendance in many Central Brooklyn schools. On Twitter, Brooklyn high school teacher Stephen Lazar said only 50 to 60 percent of his students had come to school today. Another teacher, Janine Whitman, said only 2 of her 12 students were in class this morning. "We were missing many students AND teachers today!" wrote Mark Anderson, who teaches at an elementary school in the Bronx.
October 22, 2008
Wayback Wednesday: When truants had their own schools
Before there were "chronically absent" children, there were "truants." And truants were dealt with as criminals, with the city allocating funds to build detention centers for them even when it couldn't afford to build enough schools for all the city's children. Enter progressive education official Julia Richman, who in 1905 launched a kinder, gentler model of truant school. In a full-page profile of the school late in its first year, The New York Times called the Lower East Side school "one of the most important experiments in sociology ever undertaken by the New York Board of Education." Under the leadership of Principal Olive Jones, a woman whose "casual appearance [gave] no indication of her concentrated strength of character," boys enjoyed small classes, intensive counseling, group activities, and, most of all, fairness. Olive Jones on admitting a new student:
October 22, 2008
In England, as in NYC, lots of young kids missing school
Department of Education officials weren’t surprised by yesterday’s Center for New York City Affairs report that elementary school students miss lots of school…
October 21, 2008
Betsy Gotbaum: High absenteeism is DOE's fault
Following on Randi’s heels, the city’s public advocate, Betsy Gotbaum, has a statement out on the New School report that found 20%…
October 21, 2008
Weingarten: ATRs, summit could help reduce absenteeism
The city needs a summit to tackle elementary-grade absenteeism, according to United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. And she says drawing on the skills of teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve pool could help get students to school: This is a challenging and complex issue, and a “business as usual” approach is not going to properly address it. That’s why the UFT is calling for a summit on this issue. A workable solution is going to require collaboration between the city and the community to make sure that proper services and supports are available to every school and every student that needs access to them. Needs and resources must be aligned. For example, we know that the attendance teacher ranks are spread very thin, and that there are more than 200 guidance counselors, social workers and attendance teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) pool that could be immediately utilized to help reverse this alarming trend. Weingarten's entire response is posted after the jump.
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