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Get Serious About Attendance | Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren

Get Serious About Attendance

Students Have to Show Up to Learn

What We Know
Students who do not regularly attend school are less likely to learn, less likely to graduate, and less likely to succeed as adults in terms of jobs, health, staying out of jail, and other indicators of well-being.

For example, more than 30,000 DPSCD students (over two-thirds of the students) missed 10 or more days of school in 2015-2016, which was considered to be chronically absent at the time. You can’t learn if you don’t first show up.

We want to make sure students, families, teachers, and the full community see the importance of attending school every day as our top priority, demonstrated by drastically reducing the “chronic absence” rate (students missing 10 percent or more days of school for any reason).


  • If students don’t go to school, they can expect a bleak future. Thus, our community must own responsibility for this issue and execute a broad-based attendance campaign to eliminate chronic absenteeism among Detroit students.
  • The local data required to devise targeted solutions are lacking. Make data more consistent and reliable

    • Using a single definition (above) for measuring chronic absence. This should be used and enforced statewide.
    • Creating a citywide data system to create a single source of student data across governance types for all appropriate parties. Data should include reasons for absences.
    • Conducting Detroit-specific research on chronic absence and persistent attendance.
  • Improve school climate and culture so that kids want to stay in school. Train all school staff in restorative practices as an alternative to “zero tolerance” discipline policies that push students out of school. Reduce the number of out-of-school suspensions/expulsions.
  • Increase public and private funding for proven school-based health interventions that help keep students in school, including making school nurses, school mental health providers, and school-based health centers available to all students through strategic partnerships as part of a broad set of school-based health services, community schools, and wrap-around services that address obstacles to attendance.
  • Enlist parents and caregivers to help prevent avoidable student absences, making sure Detroit’s students are in school every day. Parents and caregivers are critical to the success of this and all our priorities.

Student absence is a big issue. Schools need a better system on taking attendance to assure parents that their children are in school and learning.

Jaylin Harris

MLK High School Student