Lubbock ISD works to increase attendance rate

Lubbock ISD works to increase attendance rate

Posted: Updated:
LUBBOCK, Texas -

Missing just a few days of school can set a student back, especially young children. A study finds only 17 percent of students who are chronically absent in both kindergarten and first grade are reading proficiently by the third grade. That is compared to 64 percent who have good attendance. 

Jaci Underwood, principal of Stewart Elementary School said attendance is a top priority. 

"If we get behind now, we're already setting them up to struggle when they go to middle school and high school," Underwood said. 

Underwood says the kids learn for about 7 hours a day and if they miss a day, it is not possible to make up that time. 

"They are learning their letters and sounds and they are readers." Underwood said. "Our goal now is to have them reading before they leave kindergarten."

Nationally, one in 10 kindergarten and first grade students are chronically absent, missing nearly a month of school. Lynn Akin, assistant superintendent with Lubbock ISD said it is hard to fully make up for the days missed. 

"Each and every time, especially if a student is missing chronically, and they begin to build up all of this void of information and learning, it really does, it does put them in disadvantage," Akin said. 

Akin said they are actively working through the district to improve rates. 

"These attendance officers work with the administrative teams with each of these schools to encourage good attendance, to encourage a process that involves each and every time the student is absent, they're contacted."

At Stewart Elementary, Underwood said they have created an incentive, "mystery guest", where the classroom with the best attendance gets a special visit that week.

"They surprise the class and they show up and just encourage them and sometimes they bring them something, and we have a special celebration, we take pictures with them." Underwood said. "So the kids will come to school and they'll say, you know my head hurt this morning but I came anyways."

She said the state percentage goal for attendance is 97 percent and makes it a point to share that number with the kids.

"I'll say what's our percentage goal?" Underwood said. "And they'll announce it loudly, and we track what our was from the day before."

Akin said their strategy to raising attendance, starts with the parents.

"Parents can be tremendous impactors." Akin said. "We encourage parents, you know, don't except excuses."

While Lubbock ISD has had good rates the past few years, Akin said they are still striving to improve. 

"Even though we are hovering around 96 percent attendance rate, we still want desperately to reach out and get all of our kids there," Akin said. 

Last school year, about 6 percent of students had perfect attendance for the district.

Powered by Frankly