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Approaching Solutions for Chronic Absence

In order for a student to be considered “chronically absent” they have to have missed 10 to 19 days of classes throughout the school year. In many cases, people are tempted to play the blame game and think teachers and administrators are not holding up their end of the bargain when it comes to keeping kids in school.

Dr. Linda Lane, superintendent of the Pittsburgh Public Schools, feels that “both the communities, the families and schools need to find common ground.” That common ground, she says is that everyone wants the kids to do well.

Sue Fothergill, Senior Policy Analyst with Attendance Works, agrees with Dr. Lane and suggests that we need to take a closer look at the attendance data. In order to ensure that kids come to school everyday, all angles must be considered. By “wrapping our arms around the data” she says it’s possible to determine schools, areas and neighborhoods where chronic absenteeism is especially prevalent or where there are better attendance rates.

Colleen Fedor, executive director of the Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern PA also says mentoring is part of the package of the solution.

"We have to surround them with people who care about them, who have time to listen and pay attention and support them and help them be successful."