Cleveland Metropolitan School District Works to Bring Down Rates of Absenteeism

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by Michelle Faust

The U.S. Department of Education released a website Friday with data showing the number of kids who are chronically absent around the country.

The federal government defines "chronic" as a child who misses 10 days of school in a year.  In the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, more students are chronically absent than the national average.

This past academic year, CMSD launched an attendance campaign to try to reduce that number.  CMSD reports the "Get to School, You Can Make It" project reached its goal -- 11 percent fewer students missed at least 10 days of school this year compared to last.  But more than 21-thousand students in the district are still chronically absent.

CMSD's Kevin Khayat says while nationally, students start to fall behind in math and reading after missing 15 days of school, Cleveland students decline sooner and faster.  

"Ten days is like a day a month. Most people would think that's not a big deal, but we found it didn't matter when in the school year you miss those 10 days it has that adverse impact," says Khayat.

District officials credit a year of bike giveaways, public parties, and calls to parents for the improvement in attendance.

Over the summer, Khayat will dig deeper into absentee data to see how the district should adjust its goals for next year.


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