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Wendy Wolfe


United States

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Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS), is an urban district with approximately 30,000 students. The student body is comprised of at least 25% (and growing) newcomers or English Language Learners. Just over 30% of the student body is eligible for free and reduced lunch. Our student body demographics are roughly: 38% white, 31% Black/African American, 17% Hispanic/Latino, 7% multi-racial, 4% Asian/Asian Pacific Islander, and 3% Indigenous Peoples. And 3 of every 10 of our students are absent which is almost 50% worse than the national average (DOE). I serve 15 of MPS’ approximately 70 schools, and work closely with MPS Online School, virtually serving K-12 students across Minneapolis and beyond. MPS Online educators are alarmed about student attendance rates (and achievement). It is through discussions with their leadership and faculty that I was drawn to this challenge for education. Research quickly supported the narratives I am hearing. As reported by Axios, from 2019 to 2022, MPS attendance rates for kids who “attended school regularly” have dropped by 33% with white students dropping 31% (90% to 59%), Black students 39% (71% to 32%), Native Americans 20% (44% to 24%) Latinos, 34% (78% to 44%), and Special Education students 26% (63% to 37%). And school attendance is not improving. Chronic absenteeism deprives students of access to physical and mental health support, and missing school means missing learning. Elementary school absenteeism impacts reading at grade level (White House), missing 10+ days of middle school can impact graduation (Axios), and high school absenteeism can result in dropping out, which is linked to lower economic opportunity, poorer health, and increased involvement with the criminal justice system (US Government). Sources: Axios: USNews: DOE: White House: US Government:

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