Sitka’s School District is beginning a new effort to target absenteeism.
Learning Support Director Mandy Evans said staff will focus on students who skip too much school.
“To do that, you need consistence in definitions and understandings of the way you’re filtering which kids require interventions and not. What we’ve found is that we have different ways of tracking that haven’t always given us clearly the data. And so, we’re in the middle of that work right now,” he said.
Evans said once that’s done, staff will begin at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School and Blatchley Middle School. The program will then move on to other schools.
She said the effort will also help the district quantify the extent of its absentee problem.
School Board member Tom Conley has been researching the issue in other school systems.
During a Tuesday board work session, he presented findings linking absenteeism at certain grades to problems later in life. For example, missing early grades increases the chance of dropping out. And those who leave school early have a harder time getting jobs.
Conley said students skip school due to illness, family violence, substance abuse and lack of interest.
“Most relevant is whether children are coming from an environment that values education and has support from the student’s family and neighborhood,” he said.
The district’s absentee-intervention program just began a few weeks ago.
Evans said she’ll tell the board more at an upcoming meeting.