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DCPS at a Glance: Attendance

At DC Public Schools, we want every student to feel loved, challenged, and prepared to positively influence society and thrive in life. To reach this ambitious goal, every student needs to be in school every day. However, too many of the young people in our city are not coming to school every day. 

The Office of the State Superintendent’s (OSSE) finds that one in four kids in DC are chronically absent from school – which means missing 10 percent or more of the school year. At some DCPS high schools, three out of four students are chronically absent. 

DCPS believes that every day counts. 

Students, families, and the community must be empowered to track our progress in helping every young person get to school. By being transparent about our challenges, our city can work together to reduce the barriers that too many students and families face. 

Definitions 

  • Truancy: Measures the percent of students aged 5-17 who are considered truant. To be “truant” means that a student has 10 or more unexcused absences from school – with or without – parental knowledge, consent, or otherwise securing prior approval from the start of the school year. 
  • In-school Attendance: Measures the average percent of students who are attending school. 
  • Chronic Absence Rate: Measures the percent of students who miss 10 percent or more days in a school year from the start of the school year. 
  • Attendance Entry Rate: Measures the percent of classes for which a school has entered attendance. 
  • 60/40 rule: Students are considered legally absent for the day if they miss more than 40% of their classes. 

Regular school attendance is critical for academic success. Our goal is to ensure that every student attends school regularly and on time. Daily presence in school has a huge impact on a student’s academic success, starting in kindergarten and continuing through high school. Even as children grow older and more independent, families can continue to play a key role in making sure students get to school safely every day and understand why attendance is so important for success in school and in life. 

We realize some absences are unavoidable due to health problems or other circumstances. But, we also know that when students miss too much school—excused or unexcused—they can fall behind academically.  Your child is less likely to succeed if he or she is chronically absent—which means missing 18 or more days in a school year.  Research shows that: 

Children that are chronically absent in kindergarten and 1st grade are much less likely to read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade. By 6th grade, chronic absence is a warning sign for students at risk of dropping out of school. By 9th grade, good attendance can predict graduation rates even better than 8th grade test scores. 

You can view our Pre-K to Graduation policies here

We look forward to seeing your child in school! If you need support in getting your child to school or to school on time, we recommend: 

  • Meeting with your school leader, social worker, psychologist, or teacher; 
  • Consulting with school medical staff, if applicable, and assistance completing an Individual Health Plan; 
  • Reviewing your child’s current Individual Education Plan (IEP) with school officials, if applicable; and/or 
  • Seeking other support services or referrals. 

For support in helping students get to school every day, please contact your school’s attendance counselor, and learn about more supports on the DCPS website and at attendance.dc.gov