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Window into Fla's dismal dropout rate: 1 in 10 kids miss a month of school a year

From designing motivational posters to high-fiving students at the door, South Florida schools spend a lot of effort to get kids to do the obvious: Show up.

A new school year begins Monday with the reality that hundreds of thousands of Florida students — almost 1 in 10 — miss a month or more of school every year, according to state figures.

“Sometimes they’re absent for reasons that can be fixed,” said Laurel Thompson, Broward’s director of student services.

The reasons for chronic absenteeism, defined by Florida as 21 or more days missed per year, run the gamut from serious illness to avoiding a bully to just having trouble getting there.

A report issued earlier this year by Johns Hopkins University researchers found better attendance to be a painfully obvious — yet somehow routinely overlooked — way of boosting graduation rates, student achievement, and even standardized test scores. Story by Laura Isensee and Mike Vasquez here.

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