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D.C. schools use app to improve attendance

D.C. schools use app to improve attendance (Kellye Lynn/ ABC7)

Smartphones have become an essential part of life and not just for grown ups.

Stuart Hobson 8th Grader London Rush told ABC7, "It helps me connect with my friends and we can do our fun things."

Now educators in D.C. are relying on mobile devices to help them tackle a challenging problem. Chronic truancy stands at a rate of 16 percent for D.C. Public Schools and 14 percent for D.C. Public Charter Schools.

Katherine Turner is Assistant Principal at Stuart Hobson Middle School in Northeast explained, "Truancy was a very large problem four years ago here at Stuart Hobson. We had 18 percent of our students missing 10 or more days unexcused."

The Show Up, Stand Out truancy reduction program helped drop that number to one percent. Now the same program is launching a new student-developed attendance app.

Program Director of Show Up Stand Out Brenda Aleman, explained, "It really is an app launched for students by students." The design is similar to Facebook, allowing students to communicate about attendance through posts with the hope that positive peer pressure will reduce truancy.

Rush thinks it will be a useful tool for herself and her friends. "I can also check up on them and tell them like, 'Why you didn't come to school today?,'" she said.

Students can use the app individually or in teams with prizes for the top performers.

Aleman added, "We are hoping to be able to give out a grand prize that will likely be some kind of experience; an internship, a summer camp."

Thirteen-year-old Melvin Holloway, who once struggled with being late and absent from school, gave the app his endorsement.

"Kids like phones and electronics so if it's an app that will teach you how to stay on time for school and know where you're going, know what you're doing, i just think it's a good app for kids," he said.

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