DC Schools Graduating More And More Chronically Absent Students

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Rob Shimshock Education Reporter
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Public schools in Washington, D.C., are graduating more and more chronically absent students, according to an investigation released Tuesday.

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education investigated the school system after reports that Ballou High School graduated students who did not meet attendance requirements, reported The Washington Post.

The investigation found that over 11 percent of 2017 D.C. Public Schools graduates missed more than half of all school days.

“Policy violations were seen in a total of 113 of the 177 graduating students’ records from Ballou High School,” said Hanseul Kang, D.C.’s state superintendent of education at a Tuesday press conference. “In general, excessive absences — many teachers were found to not have applied a grade reduction that is required according to DCPS policy.”

Ballou followed an unofficial policy of giving students half-credit — and not zero percent — for assignments they did not complete, according to the report.

“Our work right now is to make sure that all of the schools are aligned with our current policy,” said Wilson. “We are implementing a transcript review process.”

“We also saw an inappropriate or excessive use of credit recovery for students,” said Kang. “Credit recovery policies were also found to be vague and undefined with little oversight, coordination, or training.”

“This is not our first time talking about attendance,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser at the press conference. “We have been talking about how schools and communities can help children get to school.”

“Showing up half the time doesn’t work anywhere in life,” said the mayor. “The huge investments that we made turning around our schools only work if kids are sitting in seats.”

Bowser confirmed that taxpayer dollars were being used for the investigation.

Chancellor Antwan Wilson had removed Dr. Yetunde Reeves from her position as Ballou’s principal and said at the press conference that the search for a new permanent principal is ongoing.

“Students must feel loved,” said Wilson at the press conference. “Love is not about lowering expectation…we must challenge them.”

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