Why do we do this?
Chronic absenteeism — missing more than 10% of the school year, or just two days a month — can be a destructive force in a child’s education, thwarting early-learning milestones and serving as a painful predictor of dropping out. Chronic absenteeism is a challenge across Maryland where nearly one in five students (20.8%) miss 10 percent of the school year. But those rates are even higher in urban and low-income areas, and the problem is endemic in Baltimore.
Within the Baltimore City Public Schools, over a third (34.4%) of all students — more than 27,000 children — are chronically absent. Rates of absenteeism tend to increase as students age, but in the city’s elementary schools alone, about 11,500 students (27.7%) miss 10 percent of the school year (source: THP).
Of course, the reasons children miss school can vary dramatically, including: student health; transportation challenges; academic concerns; and unfulfilled basic needs. Organizations across the country have pioneered promising interventions, including improving access to health-care, offering additional before- or after-school care, and establishing closets with school uniforms. In short, we need a multifaceted approach.