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September 01, 2016

Outreach program leads to rise in attendance at Philly public schools

Education Schools
School District of Philadelphia headquarters Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

The School District of Philadelphia headquarters on North Broad Street.

As public school officials prepare to welcome students back into the classroom, the Philadelphia School District announced attendance is on the rise.

On Friday, Superintendent William R. Hite revealed a three-percent increase in student attendance during the 2015-2016 school year.

“Nothing is more important than children attending school. When children attend school, literacy rates increase. When children attend school, graduation rates increase and more children are ready for a career or college. When children attend school, they have a better chance to succeed in school and in life,” Hite said. “Next week, the school year begins and the most important thing parents and guardians can do is make sure their children are in school, on time, and ready to learn.”

School officials determine attendance by calculating how many students were in school 95 percent of the time. The three-percent increase meant that 4,000 more children reached that milestone last school year.

The school district had reported a one-percent increase in each of the past two years.

The district's outreach program was credited for the improved attendance, school officials said. In 2014-15, the school district repeatedly reminded parents of the importance of attendance and updated parents on their children's total absences throughout the school year.

The school district will expand of those efforts and implement additional tools for the upcoming year.

"While we are headed in the right direction, there is still more work to be done,” Hite said.

The first day of school is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 7.