Sarah Lenhoff, assistant professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies is quoted on new report released on chronic absenteeism in Detroit schools

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Chalkbeat, 11/25

Report: Detroit faces the most challenges to keeping kids in school. Schools can’t fix the problem alone.

By Lori Higgins 

How bad is Detroit’s student chronic absenteeism problem? Wayne State University researchers have identified eight conditions — such as poverty, unemployment, and even cold temperatures — that are strongly correlated to chronic absence, and the city leads all other large metropolitan areas in having the worst outcomes for almost all of those conditions. The findings come with a key takeaway the researchers hope will prompt action: Schools alone can’t solve the problem of getting students to school every day, said Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, an assistant professor in the college of education at Wayne State University. And, the findings come during a critical time as the Detroit school district invests heavily in a number of efforts designed to get students in school.

Citywide, across district and charter schools, about half of the students are chronically absent — meaning they’re missing 18 or more days during the school year. Lenhoff said what’s needed is a more coordinated effort that brings together policymakers, school district officials, charter school officials, community organizations, and community members. Without it, the work being done by schools is “unlikely to make the huge difference we need to make,” Lenhoff said.

Bridge, 11/26

Why do Detroit kids miss so much school? Hint: Don’t just blame the schools

By Ron French

Detroit students have among the highest rates of chronic absenteeism in the nation, and a new report suggests schools alone can’t fix it. Instead, the major causes for Detroit students missing class at three times the state average are predominantly outside of school, such as asthma, poverty, segregation and plummeting city population, according to a new report by researchers at Wayne State University’s College of Education. “While school-based efforts to reduce absenteeism are critical, they are likely insufficient to address the enormous challenges students face in getting to school in Detroit,” report co-author Sarah Lenhoff, assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at Wayne State, told Bridge Magazine. “A lot of our efforts so far have been school-based efforts,” Lenhoff said. “Those efforts only go so far.” Lenhoff said she hopes the study will help state leaders understand that school achievement is a reflection of community achievement. Community leaders are beginning to work together on the issue, forming a group called Every School Day Counts Detroit with the goal of decreasing chronic absenteeism to 15 percent by 2027.