The district expects the attendance rate of minority students will improve as a result of strategies adopted in the district’s $7.5 million plan to close the disparity in achievement between minority and white students, said Joe Gothard, assistant superintendent for secondary schools.
The strategies include adding staff to work with parents at four elementary schools, expanding its culturally relevant practices program to help students understand the importance of school and implementing a new, $250,000 early warning system that among other things alerts principals when students are missing too much school. Previously principals had to track the attendance data themselves.
Gothard, a former La Follette High School principal, said when he would contact parents about absenteeism the reaction often was surprise.
“We know that we need our students in our schools in their seats to achieve,” Gothard said. “Attendance and time in school is definitely at the top of our list in strategies and partnerships that we have to put in place.”