Chronic absence is defined as missing 10% or more of the school year, which is at least 18 absences. This includes both excused and unexcused absences. We know that students can’t learn if they are not in school. We also know that getting students to school everyday will drive up achievement, high school graduation rates, and college attainment rates. Data analyses from multiple states and school districts have consistently found chronic absenteeism to be among the strongest predictors of dropping out of high school for our students. Students with poor attendance habits struggle in college and at work, even after high school. In Providence chronic absence has become a crisis and needs to be addressed with urgency.
Strategies and Projects
The CYC has a focus on improving attendance and reducing chronic absence throughout a child’s educational experience. Our key strategies include:
1) campaigns to build awareness about the importance of attendance to students, parents, and community members,
2) exercising policy recommendations that leads to adoption and
3) piloting high functioning attendance teams at a cohort of schools.
Success to date
In 2016 under the leadership of Providence Superintendent Chris Maher and with the leadership of longtime CYC partners such as City Year, Providence Schools saw an overall decline of chronic absence by 3 percentage points.
At the school where the CYC and partners piloted a high quality attendance team approach, chronic absence decreased by 9 percentage points. This equates to hundreds more instructional hours for more than 50 students!