WXXI AM News

Rochester School District Intensifies Efforts At Improving Attendance

Aug 5, 2015

Credit WXXI

Rochester School District officials say they’ve made progress in increasing attendance, but they are intensifying those efforts with the new school year about to start.

District Superintendent Bolgen Vargas has put a big emphasis on improving attendance, especially in the lower grades, and a recent report shows there has been some progress.

The district defines chronic absence as being absent at least two days per month, and officials say in Kindergarten through the 3rd grade, where they have put the most emphasis, they’ve reduced that chronic absence rate from about 37 percent to 30 percent, or just over a thousand students.

The district’s Senior Director for Youth Development and Family Services, Jerome Underwood, says officials will continue their monthly visits to targeted homes in the last week of August, just before school starts.

“We’re going to do an attendance blitz, basically to homes of students who were chronically absent last year, try to support those families, see how we can support them to close any need gaps that they have and hopefully have a different year for those children who were chronically absent last year.”

Underwood says the district is also trying to work with those involved in the new anti-poverty initiative in Rochester and Monroe County since the research shows that some of the greatest numbers of students with attendance problems occur in some of the city's poorest neighborhoods.

He says the school district is also involved in a pilot program with the Monroe County Department of  Human Services, visiting the families of students at School 22 who have had more serious attendance problems.