Detroit public schools have an absenteeism rate three times the state average, with about two in three students "chronically absent" per academic year, meaning they miss 18 days or more.
A new Wayne State University study, reported by Bridge Magazine, suggests the high rate stems from problems outside the classroom.
Researchers examined a number of environmental and structural factors in 33 cities across the nation with populations over 500,000. The study found:
The percent of adults with asthma had the highest correlation to school absences, followed by violent crime rate, residential vacancy rate, unemployment rate and poverty rate
Other factors with a statistically significant correlation to school attendance: segregation, population change since 1970 and cold average temperature.
Detroit ranked worst among the 33 cities on six of the factors (asthma, violent crime, residential vacancy rate, unemployment rate, poverty rate and population change), second in another (segregation) and third in the other (temperature).