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Tulsa Public Schools makes attendance push across the district

Posted at 4:42 PM, Apr 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-22 18:32:56-04

TULSA, Okla. — Chronic absenteeism went from 15 to 11 percent at Will Rogers Jr. High in just one year.

The campus attendance dean looks at statistics daily, then contacts students and parents to figure out where needs can be met.

"Every parent that I've ever talked with wants their child in school. But not all parents have the same tools for getting their child to school. That's why I talk to parents, to decide what those tools are," Kelly Alexander said.

Will Rogers is also adding incentives these last few weeks, putting the chronically absent into a drawing for gift cards if they maintain attendance. Many face challenges like transportation.

"Many of our families are a one-vehicle family. So the primary breadwinner in that family has to have that vehicle. So if you miss the bus that's a problem, if they're sick that's a problem," Alexander said.

Teachers tell 2 Works for You the students who miss too much school fall behind in social skills and academics.

"They're going to move on to the next grade level with holes in their learning. It may not be obvious right at first but then as they start moving through eighth grade or ninth grade, taking certain tests or working on certain assignments, they start realizing that they don't know the same things that the other students know," seventh grade English teacher Jennie Lowther said.

The Communities in Schools site coordinator said the biggest win is when students come back to campus showing a commitment to future goals. It's why they continue to make attendance a priority.

"I had a student that was going to be a dropout who was missing school a lot and making some poor choices and she did graduate on time and is actually going to college to be an anesthesiologist of all things," Susan Mulvaney said.

Multiple schools across the district are using incentives to prevent attendance dropping off these last few weeks.

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