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Stranger than Fiction: Creative Efforts to Keep Students in School
posted by: Alix | October 02, 2012, 08:53 PM   

Keeping students in school has been a problem in school districts nationwide. In urban areas, studies have shown that just 50% of students graduate with a high school diploma. Across the country, efforts to curb school absenteeism and truancy vary from extravagant to practical, with a plethora of measures in between.

On the extravagant side, Get Schooled, a non-profit based in New York, awarded a middle school in Seattle a free concert by R&B performer NeYo, as the prize for winning an attendance competition. Similarly, Get Schooled offers computer-games and weekly wake-up calls recorded by popular celebrities as motivation for students to show up for school.

In California, one of the many states where states receive school funding based on students' attendance, the "No Excuses – Go Back to School" campaign enters students with a month-long perfect attendance record into raffles for laptops, bicycles, and even a $20,000 voucher for an auto mall (which also agreed to pay taxes and licenses on winner's car).

While these extreme measures can motivate students, practical measures also prove to be effective in maintaining and increasing attendance rates. One such method is providing Saturday school to students who miss class during the week. One third of Pomona Unified School District staff in California provided 30,032 students with at least one Saturday class, which earned the school an extra $1 million in state funding.

Other practical steps include simply calling and writing parents, whose children miss school, or "giving away a lot of alarm clocks," as Ken Seeley, President of the National Center for School Engagement, said.

In South Carolina efforts to curb absences turned local as the "Reach Out for Dropouts" program recruited 40 volunteers to go door-to-door in pursuit of 35 absent students. The Clark County District in Las Vegas also created "Reclaim Your Future," a program which sends school employees and community volunteers door-to-door, persuading dropouts to return to schools.

Lastly, efforts turn political, as the South Carolina Senate is working to advance a bill that would revoke the driving privileges of teens that skip too many classes. If approved, this law will go into effect in August 2013, just in time for the new school year.

What efforts is your school taking to combat attendance problems? Do you think your state or district should spend more time convincing students to attend school?

Comment below.

Comments (2)Add Comment
Secondary Ed Undergrad
written by Cade (Alabama), October 02, 2012

The reason for all of the above antics is because educators have realized the difficulty of motivating parents/guardians to ensure their children are in school, so they've gone to costly reward programs to motivate the kids. The problem is bigger than programs. Administrators need to support their teachers by discussing problems with accountable parents. Teachers simply need to teach in a way that shows they love their job and their students. That in my experience as a student has been one of my biggest motivations. There just aren't many teachers who act like it's anything more than a paycheck. I dreaded going to the classrooms of those teachers.
written by Greg Longworth Ohio, October 02, 2012

This is totally insane we have to reward kids to go to school ? Seriously what they need is paddling or send the parents to jail. That's the problem you coddle these kids to death. School is mandatory go or pay the consequences. No wonder our kids are dumb we have educators who are dumber than the kids.

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