Federal effort to combat chronic absenteeism at schools

WASHINGTON (AP) The Obama administration is appealing to schools to help cut chronic absenteeism by providing mentors and other support for students who miss too much school instead of suspending or expelling them.

It's one of the steps outlined in a new effort to keep kids from habitually being absent.

An estimated 5 to 7.5 million students are chronically absent each year. Students are considered chronically absent if they miss at least 18 days in a school year.

The Education Department says frequent absences can lead to school children falling behind academically. Instead of kicking students out for chronic truancy, the department suggests that schools take a closer look at why these kids are absent so often and then provide more support like a mentor or other community services.