This NY Times piece on chronic absenteeism in schools was interesting, particularly this paragraph:
The problem has hardly disappeared. Last year, at 42 percent of the city’s 700 elementary schools, one in five students missed a month or more of school, according to the New School study. But four years ago, that was true of 58 percent of the schools. And high school attendance is worse and tougher to fix: 34 percent of the city’s high school students missed a month or more of school last year
Most notable to me: over one-third of all high school students in NYC missed at least a month of school. It's obviously pretty difficult for even the best teacher to teach students who aren't there. The bigger question that I'm not sure I've ever seen addressed in research is to what extent a school can be expected alter the attendance patterns of its students.
One can imagine a scenario in which a teacher, administrator, or schools goes above and beyond their normal job description and does things like showing up at a student's door in the morning or something less drastic. But to what extent can we expect teachers, administrators, and schools to improve the attendance of students? If students aren't in school we can't possibly expect teachers to teach them. But is it fair to expect teachers and others to attract kids to school? Should that be part of the job description? Or should we add it to the long list of non-school factors over which schools have no control?