The New York Times has a story that will not be news to local schoolteachers: according to a New School study, about 20 percent of the city’s K-8 students missed a month or more of school last year.
The Department of Education — which, we saw from its recent School Report Cards, is given to peculiar standards of measurement — says if you use its rubric for chronic absenteeism — “10 consecutive days or 20 days over four months” — attendance has actually gotten better.
The New School report suggests that the problem is most acute in poorer neighborhoods, which conforms with findings in a September report from the National Center for Children in Poverty, which also finds that many students missing a lot of school in kindergarten and first grade wind up performing poorly in later grades.
“I’m utterly unsurprised, and a little disgusted,” says Robert Pondiscio at the Core Knowledge blog. “Frankly, it’s also another unintended consequence of system in which The Test is the alpha and omega. In my South Bronx elementary school we regularly promoted students who missed dozens of school days, as long as they passed — or even came close to passing — a single standardized test.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 21, 2008