Local Policy

U.S. Conference of Mayors Agree to Combat Chronic Absence

The U.S. Conference of Mayors unanimously adopted a resolution urging mayors to raise awareness of the pernicious effects of chronic absenteeism on student achievement and engage the community to help parents get children to school regularly.

The resolution, introduced by Providence Mayor Angel Taveras with support of 12 other mayors, cites Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ambitious work to reduce absenteeism in New York City and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s broad efforts to persuade 124 communities across the country to start paying attention to chronic absence as part of a strategy to improve literacy in the early grades.

Given the local influence on education in the United States, local policy is key to shaping what happens on the ground in school and communities. Regardless of state or federal requirements, school districts have the authority to see that chronic absence data are tracked, reported and addressed. School districts and their community partners can make school attendance an explicit priority and decide to use chronic absence data to trigger interventions and inform the allocation of community resources that could reduce barriers to attendance.

San Diego, CA: Recognizing the need to get local policymakers on board, the Children’s Initiative made monitoring student absences a key element of its local county report card.

Baltimore, MD: In Baltimore, improving attendance and addressing chronic absence is a shared policy priority for the Mayor and the Baltimore City Schools.  The schools superintendent highlighted the issue in his latest release of state test scores, noting a 25-point gap between chronically absent students and others. A community task force has recommended more steps toward addressing the problem.

San Francisco: The school board adopted a resolution calling on the San Francisco Unified School District superintendent to analyze chronic absence rates and create a pilot program to reduce absences at several struggling schools. To learn about the impact of this resolution, click here to listen to Norman Yee and Claudia Anderson here.