2 Seattle middle schools focus on attendance, see scores climb

Matthew Zalaznick's picture
Monday, November 25, 2013

The finding was hard to believe, but year after year and in state after state, the numbers kept bearing it out: Sixth-graders who missed 20 days of class had, at best, a 20 percent chance of graduating from high school on time.

This was a bombshell for researcher Bob Balfanz, who’d spent most of his career trying to understand the factors driving 1 million American students to drop out each year. He’d paced school hallways and sat through hundreds of hours of classroom instruction.

But in 2007, after tracking 13,000 middle-schoolers for eight years in Philadelphia, Balfanz finally isolated a red flag common to all who, years later, failed to graduate on time: A history of poor attendance.

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