by Kate Evans
Morgan County Schools Attendance, Maintenance and Safety Director Jeromy Duelley presented new data at the January 24 Morgan County School Board meeting that indicated increased student attendance and decreased chronic absenteeism at county schools.
County, school attendance
Duelley said that Morgan County Schools average attendance as of January 13 was now 91.25%, up from 90.71% as of December 20. The total percentage of absent students included both excused and unexcused absences.
Average student attendance as of January 13 appeared to have gone up by a percentage point at most schools, he said.
Chronic absences dropped by some 4% in the last month, Duelley said.
Chronically absent percentage rates were high for the second 9-week period, with percentages ranging from around 25% at the intermediate school to 43.26% at Widmyer Elementary.
Duelley said that illnesses in the schools has been an attendance factor.
Duelley said that these attendance presentations are to get people talking about the importance of attending school and the urgency of students being present in the building for instruction. He will also be presenting attendance data to the school board after the third and fourth 9-week periods.
Schools are working hard on getting kids to come to school, Duelley said. Their focus is on students that have between 10 and 18 absences. Their goal is keeping kids below 18 school absences, whether excused or unexcused. Duelley said that students aren’t considered chronically absent if they miss 18 or fewer days of the schools year.
School Tier 1 attendance incentives include games and prizes for students, Duelley said. Schools are also recognizing students for perfect attendance and faithful attendance.
Duelley said attendance rates are much better than they were last year, but that they still need work.
Children who are chronically absent in preschool, kindergarten and first grade are much less likely to read at grade level by the third grade, according to U.S. Department of Education information. Students that can’t read at grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely than proficient readers to drop out of high school.