How DC's Truancy Policy Fails Students and Steps to Turn it Around

Children’s Law Center, in partnership with DC Lawyers for Youth, released a report on the state of the District’s truancy policies. Despite improvement in truancy numbers, DC still has a long way to go to improve its policies and keep kids out of the courts and in school.

The report has six key recommendations for the District to improve school attendance:

  1. Improve the school climate and student engagement at high-truancy schools.
  2. Strengthen existing school-based early interventions.
  3. Implement evidence-based programs proven to reduce truancy.
  4. Expand mental health services to all schools.
  5. Revise the “80/20 rule” to allow schools to better distinguish between students who are chronically tardy and chronically absent.
  6. Require meaningful school- or community-based intervention before students can be referred to court for poor school attendance.

Schools in the District of Columbia should provide students with an excellent education that places them on the path to successful adulthood. In order to get there, schools must ensure that students attend consistently and are engaged in class. Unfortunately, many DC students are chronically absent from school. Students with poor school attendance are more likely to drop out of high school, and only 64% of DC’s public school students graduated on time in 2013. This report provides an introduction to school attendance policy in the District and recommendations for improving it.

Read the full report below.