Schools trying to improve attendance record

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 24, 2002

FERRIDAY, La. – Since students cannot learn if they are not in school, Ferriday High School is taking steps to improve daily attendance, Fred Butcher, interim principal said Tuesday.

“The bottom line is if kids (are) not in school it makes our job as educators a lot harder,” said Interim Principal Fred Butcher.

By increasing daily attendance, school officials hope to earn additional points under the state’s new accountability plan, improve student performance in class, and improve standardized test scores.

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“The only way you’re going to get test scores up (is) you’ve got to get kids at school,” Butcher said.

His goal is to maintain daily attendance at 95 or 96 percent, and Butcher thinks the student body is making strides in that direction.

About 350 students attend Ferriday High School, and this year they have had an average Monday attendance of 95.9, Butcher said.

Tuesday’s average attendance is 94.2 percent, Wednesday’s average attendance is 94.6 percent, Thursday’s average attendance is 93.9 percent and Friday’s average attendance is 91.9 percent, Butcher said.

The average attendance for last year was 91.2 percent and Butcher said although the numbers are higher this year it still is not at the level he would like.

No matter what the quality of a school’s teachers, if students are not in school they cannot be taught, he said.

And the more days they miss in a week the harder it becomes, he said.

One thing the school is doing to address this concern and improve attendance is to conduct more testing on Friday. This will hopefully compel more students to attend class that day, Butcher said.

“I’m hoping by testing on Friday that’s going to stabilize our attendance,” Butcher said.

Teachers are also talking about attendance on a regular basis and local judges are offering their support to fight school truancy, Butcher said.

Changes in the district’s alternative program and more parental involvement have also helped, Butcher said.

The school is also making use of required Saturday school and before school detention; both programs that require parental transportation, Butcher said.

School attitude and behavior also seems to have improved this year, he said.

Although the attendance numbers are not enough to place the school among the top three in the district as far as attendance, Howard Jackson, the Concordia Parish School District’s supervisor of child welfare and attendance, said at the December school board meeting that Ferriday High School has had the most improvement. &160;