Revere School Committee Discusses Chronic Absenteeism

During Monday’s Revere School Committee meeting Revere Public School administrator Dr. Lourenco Garcia gave the committee an overview on understanding chronic absenteeism among students.

Starting this year absenteeism will be measured by the state and be part of Revere School’s overall accountability report.

According to Dr. Garcia Revere has been doing pretty good combating chronic absenteeism with progressive measures address the issue.

Under state regulations absenteeism becomes ‘chronic’ when a student misses 18 or more days of school and the state sets a benchmark for school districts to have over 90 percent or more of their students not in this state-defined chronic category.

In Revere, Dr. Garcia said overall 94.4 percent of students at all Revere schools are not defined as chronic.

However, just below chronic absenteeism is the state labels students that miss 10 to 17 days of school per year as a ‘warning’ to the district that some measures have to be implemented before the problem becomes chronic.

Dr. Garcia said the issue has grown in recent years especially in districts like Revere where there are a large immigrant or special education student population.

In Revere 36 to 37 percent of Latinos are in the ‘warning’ category and without intervention may become chronic skippers of school as their school career progresses.

“Many districts are facing the same issues with a significant percentage of students not coming to school,” said Dr. Garcia. “Some of the reasons students don’t come to school has to do with socioeconomics and poverty because parents don’t have stable job and they rely on some of their children as a source of income. There may also be a lack of engagement between teachers staff and students. If you look at Revere we are making good progress.”

However, it’s that level just under chronic where 37 percent of Latino students are on the verge of becoming categorized as chronic that has Dr. Garcia worried.

“When students don’t come to school it’s an early indicator of dropping out, academic failure or a flag for at-risk or struggling students,” he said. “So we must be extremely cautious going forward.” Some of the suggestions Dr. Garcia made is implementing more open houses, one on one meetings with students and teachers or teachers and parents. Personal phone calls to either students or parents if absenteeism starts becoming a problem. Implementing more reward and incentive programs to keep students engaged and wanting to come to school. Educating students and reinforcing the school district’s expectations for attendance and how it is tied to success. Also Dr. Garcia said more can be done to educate parents on the risk factors mentioned above is their child begins missing school on a regular basis.

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