Nearly one out of every four D.C. public school students was chronically truant last year.
The D.C. public school system had a 23.46 percent truancy rate during the 2003-04 school year, meaning that more than 15,000 of its about 65,000 students were absent without an excuse at least 15 days during the year, according to statistics that school officials have submitted to the federal government.
The District uses a different computation for truancy than neighboring jurisdictions; nonetheless, its truancy rate far exceeds that of Prince George’s County (1.8 percent), Fairfax County (0.6 percent) and Montgomery County (0.9 percent).
There is no national standard for how a school district must compile truancy statistics, education experts said. However, the District’s truancy rate is more than four times the national average of 3 percent to 5 percent, said Ken Seeley, president of the National Center for School Engagement, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice.