Hartford Gets More Help In Truancy Fight | Connecticut Public Radio
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Hartford Gets More Help In Truancy Fight

Dec 18, 2018

The number of kids missing school days in Hartford Public Schools is higher than both the national average and the state average. As a result of this struggle to keep every student in the classroom, Hartford is reaching out for help to Attendance Works, a national organization dedicated to reducing chronic absenteeism.

Chronic absenteeism affects 25.3 percent of Hartford students. When kids can't get to school for whatever reason, it affects their ability to read at the proper grade-level and ultimately hinders their chances at success.

"Kids deserve a better future," said Hedy Chang, the executive director of Attendance Works. "Every child deserves an equal opportunity to learn. But, a key early sign that a child is not getting that opportunity to learn, is that they didn't show up for school."

The company believes that by analyzing student data and by conducting a full assessment of contributing factors to chronic absence, it'll be able to help the district identify changes that need to be made to improve classroom attendance.

One of the ways the district can deal with chronic absenteeism is an attitude adjustment.

Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, the superintendent of Hartford Public Schools, believes you have to positively engage students and their families to help them to recognize how important it is to get into the classroom.

"We can blame all we want but that doesn't get us the solution-focus," Torres-Rodriguez said. "We know that, though are students might not be showing up, when they're here with us - and even if they're not here with us -- they have a number of strengths that we have to identify [and] capitalize on."

According to Attendance Works, more than 8 million children are "academically at-risk" because they're not in school enough.

Connecticut's rate of chronic absence is 10.7 percent Caption: One-quarter of all Hartford Public School students have missed enough school time to qualify as being chronically absent.