At Public School 309 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, students wear necklaces with colorful pendants, each marking a month in which they did not miss a day of school. At P.S. 75 in the South Bronx, a row of young adults welcomes students each morning as they walk in the door. Some 40,000 city children got daily automated wake-up calls from Magic Johnson and other celebrities to remind them to show up for class, and City Hall offered prizes like baseball tickets and gift certificates.
Throughout New York, educators and politicians have been increasing their focus on attendance in recent years, and their efforts appear to be paying off, at least in elementary schools: 1 in 15 elementary students were absent on a given day this year, compared to 1 in 13 four years ago and 1 in 9 in 1995.
And there have been even more significant strides in combating chronic absenteeism in early grades, according to a new study by the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School: In the 2009-10 school year, according to the report, there were 105 elementary schools where 30 percent or more of students missed at least a month of class, down from 216 three years earlier.