Tulsa school district moves to increase student attendance

Saturday, August 17th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

High rates of student absence costs Tulsa Public Schools almost 12-hundred dollars a day in state money.

Now school officials are proposing a new, stricter attendance policy that goes beyond the rules at other area schools.

John Hamill with the Tulsa Public School System says," You can't learn if you are not in class. So we're trying to impress upon students and parents that attending class is not an optional situation."

And if students continue to be chronically absent Tulsa Public School officials want to make awarding class credit optional.

Superintendent Dr. David Sawyer is trying to raise the district's attendance rate.

He's proposing students may have no more than 5 absenses per Clas for the semester. If students go over that they are referred to a review committee and could lose credit for the course.

Sawyer says, "We are going to make the case that attendance is important"

Other schools in the area don't have such severe policies. Owasso high school students can miss up to 10 days per class before they lose credit.

So can students at Union and Jenks. But all three of those school's attendance rates are significantly higher than T-P-S. Owasso had the best numbers of area schools we surveyed with 96 percent average daily attendance last year.

Both Union and Jenks reported about 95 percent last year. Tulsa averaged 92 percent.

Some area schools have incentives in place. For some Owasso and Union students good attendance and good grades allow them to skip semester tests.

T-P-S researched several incentives... but decided against them.

Hamill says, "All of the incentive programs we looked at basically didn't show the kind of improvement in attendance figures that this district needs."

The five absences policy TPS is considering does not include school-sponsored activites like sports or academic teams that require students to miss class.

A student who is sick for more than 5 days can secure their credit with a doctor's note and an effort to make up classwork missed.

The Tulsa School Board VOTES ON THE IDEA MONDAY.