A citywide focus on combating chronic absences
By Dan Hampton
Regular school attendance can contribute to students developing reading proficiency, staying engaged in school, scoring higher on tests, graduating from high school and college, and maintaining a job.
Research indicates that chronic absenteeism often leads to students dropping out. Average attendance below 90 percent – missing 18 days or more out of the school year – often translates into 3rd graders reading below grade level, 6th graders failing courses, and 9th graders leaving school altogether. Chronic absenteeism rates run as high as one-third of students in low-income, urban school districts, and the effect of absenteeism can be even more severe for students from low-income families.
Last October, Project U-Turn, a citywide initiative focused on the dropout crisis, along with Mayor Nutter and Superintendent Hite, announced a new campaign to help raise awareness about the importance of consistent attendance.
The campaign coincides with a national and state initiative called Attendance Works, an effort to highlight the important role that school attendance plays in achieving academic success, starting with school entry and the early years.
Project U-Turn is working with local media partners to run PSAs and create billboards that address the importance of regular attendance and the consequences of missed time at school.