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Weakley Co Schools make progress in fighting absenteeism

The halls of Greenfield school are buzzing with students moving about to their next class.

But while these students are here today to get their education, there are some who could very well not show up tomorrow.

Chronic absenteeism has been a problem in Weakley county schools for the past few years and teachers, like Tori Liggett, say it can have a negative snowball effect on student’s educational achievement.

“Over time that gap just gets wider and wider and they miss so much they can’t catch up and often they are retained.”

For the past couple years, roughly ten percent of Weakley county students were chronic absentees, meaning they missed 10% of the school year.

High schooler chronic absenteeism went as high as 16 percent.

Realizing how that was adversely impacting educational achievement, Director of Schools Randy Frazier says the district put in a plan last year to help convince students to staying school.

“We looked at partnerships throughout our county, we looked for industry who was willing to support and willing to be the incentive.”

The district started giving away simple prizes like gift cards and pizza parties to students who had high attendance.

With the help of local partners, they even gave away was a new car and a year’s worth of insurance to a high school student who had excellent attendance.

Thanks to the incentive program, the district saw a three percent drop in chronic absenteeism in 2018-2019 and high school absenteeism dropped by roughly six percent during that same time.

For the school district, they know that the more they cut chronic absenteeism, the better their students are going to perform.

“We had three percent last year, I would say realistic, we’d like to see a two to three percent drop this year.”

Dresden high school had the biggest drop in chrinic absenteeism in the county from 18 percent in 2017-2018 to 11 percent 2018-2019

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