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'Kinvolved' App Helps Teachers, Parents Crackdown On Student Truancy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Hundreds of students miss school everyday, and sometimes their parents don't even know it.

Now, there's an app designed to boost attendance in city schools.

"There's data just published that chronic absenteeism affects about 13 percent of our nations students," Alexandra Meis, Co-Founder, Kinvolved, explained.

Meis said Kinvolved is a huge change in the approach to classroom attendance.

Goodbye robo calls, hello text messages.

"It will send a message to the parents letting them know the child is absent," she told CBS2's Vanessa Murdock.

Teacher Danielle Messerschmitt uses it daily.

"Very effective, very helpful, very easy to communicate, super user friendly," she said.

Not only does it track attendance, but tardiness as well, and can be used for everyday communication with parents.

"Today I sent a letter home to them," she said.

And it let her text the parents to give them a heads up. Messerschmitt said parents prefer it this way.

Dayiu Suzuki said he does too.

"It feels much more friendly," he said, "I feel much more connection than email, flyer, or anything else."

About 125 schools use the app.

PS 125 in West Harlem was one of the first. The principal said the school had historically low attendance, Kinvolved changed that.

"It was a win. We started seeing impact almost overnight," Principal, Reginald Higgins said.

Dr. Kofi Doateng is the Executive Director of West Harlem Development Corporation.

They decided to fund neighborhood schools.

"They say education is the greatest equalizer," he said.

But if a child is not in class the opportunity is missed.

Now, 10 of the 19 schools in District 5 use it.

The result has been a nearly 2 percent increase in average attendance, that's a significant improvement over the Department of Education which saw only a quarter of a percent across the board.

The app costs between two and ten thousand dollars a year depending on school size. If a donor doesn't cover it, the money comes out of the school budget.


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