Lauderdale County working to keep students from dropping out - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Lauderdale County working to keep students from dropping out

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Unexcused absences are on the rise in Alabama schools.

And, now state officials are cracking down on the issue.

Data show the state had an estimated 12 million unexcused absences during the 2012-2013 school year.

The State Board of Education is asking districts to think outside the box when it comes to retention and attendance.

The Lauderdale County School District already has creative and successful ways to keep students motivated about attendance and staying in school.

Superintendent Jennifer Gray said for the younger students it can be as simple as awarding students on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis for perfect attendance. But the excitement over a certificate wears off.

So, the school district created the Allen Thornton Career Tech Center. It's a program for at risk students - students who may have certain factors preventing them from coming to school on a regular basis.

This program allows students to go through a creative recovery plan and receive their credits, allowing them to finish school.

Gray says instilling good attendance in students at a younger age helps them maintain the same habits once they graduate and head out into the real world.

"Research has shown that if a student has an attendance problem as early (middle school) they have a higher chance at becoming a high school dropout and that's something we don't want and with our economic situation as it stands it's very important for students to be in school, to learn good work ethics to be on time and I think that rolls over into what they can accomplish after high school," said Gray.

The Lauderdale County School District is also involved in a state pilot program called the   Comprehensive Review Learning Support Program. It's designed to help address and eliminate barriers to teachers and learning, and one of the barriers to be addressed is the attendance issue.

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