Is the city school district's push to reduce truancy working?
Posted at: 09/05/2013 6:02 PM
| Updated at: 09/05/2013 6:37 PM
By: Brett Davidsen | WHEC.com
There's been a big push by the city school district to get kids into the classroom and reduce its truancy rates. So did it pay off Wednesday on the first day of school?
The city school superintendent has said on more than one occasion, you can't learn if you're not in school. The district is aggressively trying to engage kids, especially the younger ones to make sure they're coming to class.
News10NBC checked in with the district to see how many kids were actually in school Wednesday as a new school year began. According to preliminary data given to News10NBC, 91 percent were in attendance across the district, that's up 2 percent from last year. But that also means of the 30,000 kids who go to school in the city of Rochester, roughly 2,700 did not show up on the very first day.
The superintendent has pointed to truancy as part of the reason for the district's poor performance on statewide tests. Last week, the district had its first "truancy blitz," targeting students with the most chronic attendance problems in eight schools.
The city schools are certainly a big issue in the democratic primary for mayor.
Tom Richards, Rochester Mayor, said, "What we want to see out of that school district is steady improvement and this is an example of steady improvement. So, yeah, I'm encouraged by it. Now, am I satisfied with it? No. But I am encouraged by it, yeah."
Lovely Warren, City Council President, said, "I think we have to look at this holistically and we have to work with parents to say we understand that there may be some barriers here. How do we overcome them together and that's a conversation that you have one on one with parents. It's not a conversation that you bring a contingent to to shame somebody into it.”
In a statement, Superintendent Bolgen Vargas says “the increase in attendance is a positive sign. Good attendance is critical to improving student achievement and we're going to continue to work with our families and the community until we're as good as the suburban schools.”
The district says it is planning another truancy blitz at the end of this month.