Early Grades Become the New Front in Absenteeism Wars
While many think of chronic absenteeism as a secondary school problem, research is beginning to suggest that the start of elementary school is the critical time to prevent truancy—particularly as those programs become more academic.
“Early attendance is essential; This is where you really want to work on them,” said Kim Nauer, the education project director at the Center for New York City Affairs, which studies attendance issues. “By the time you get to 5th or 6th grade, you can really get a cascade effect that you can’t recover from. How much money do we spend in a school system on all of this recuperative stuff in high school—getting the kid back and reengaged—as opposed to making sure the kids don’t slip off in elementary school?”
Yet statistics show that rates of absenteeism in kindergarten and 1st grade can rival those in high school. An average of one in 10 students younger than grade 3 nationwide is considered chronically absent, defined as missing 10 percent or more of school. That’s about 18 days in a normal 180-day year, according to the San Francisco-based Attendance Counts and the Baltimore-based Annie E....
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