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Minnesota Takes Aim At Chronic Student Absenteeism

It’s a lesson as fundamental as the ABCs: Students can’t learn if they don’t show up.

Research shows that kids in poverty coming to class can single-handedly improve student achievement. Schools across the Twin Cities offer rewards and mentoring to keep kids in school. Despite all the attention and effort, Minnesota has no clear handle on the hundreds of schools with serious attendance problems.

Now the state is buckling down on efforts to bring those kids back to class and rethinking the way it tracks school success, spurred by a change in federal law. If all goes as planned, in addition to keeping tabs on test scores and graduation rates, Minnesota will pinpoint the number of kids with severe absence streaks starting in fall 2018.