D.C. looks to students for ways to address chronic absenteeism

According to Joe Heim of the Washington Post, in the 2015-2016 school year, about 21 percent of public students in Washington were chronically truant, meaning they missed 10 school days for unexcused reasons, and 26 percent were chronically absent, meaning they missed more than 10 percent of the school year for either unexcused or excused reasons. The rates were higher in high schools and in the city’s poorer wards.

Traditional methods haven’t worked to change the tide, said Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer C. Niles. “Doing what we normally do hasn’t gotten us there,” Niles said. “So we want to ask the kids what they need from us and what do we need to change so that they want to go to school.”

That doesn’t mean school needs to be “candy and gum drops,” Niles said, but it does mean a recognition that there are barriers that keep students from feeling that school is somewhere they want to be and where their time is best spent.

Absenteeism is something “we want the whole city to think about,” she said. “When you miss school, you miss what you need to know to learn the next thing. And so we need to overcome all the reasons that you’re not in school.” Read more here.