In this photo taken Jan. 11, 2012, students fill the halls between classes at Aki Kurose Middle School in Seattle. Students used to have a lot of excuses for why they missed school or showed up late at the urban school, but are being heard much less frequently now. Staff members call the homes of children who don't show up, teachers make home visits with police officers and a school-based social worker helps families. Photo: Elaine Thompson / AP. Story by DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP, Associated Press
Aki Kurose Wins Get Schooled Challenge
SEATTLE (AP) — Students used to have a lot of really good excuses for why they missed school or showed up late to Aki Kurose Middle School. A parent's car had mechanical problems. They had to stay home to take care of a younger sibling. They overslept.
Those excuses are being heard less frequently. The students have improved their attendance enough to win a national contest and soon will get their prize: A visit from a surprise hip hop artist, who will be principal for the day and entertain kids at an all-school assembly.
Last week's winter storm postponed the special event to celebrate their success in the Fall Attendance Challenge sponsored by national nonprofit Get Schooled, but the staff at Aki Kurose continues to celebrate the ways better attendance has improved learning at the school.
Eighty-eight schools from 17 states participated in the contest. Chaparral High School in Las Vegas, East High School in Des Moines, and Academy at Palumbo in Philadelphia won regional titles.
Attendance is only about 4 percent better than last year at Aki Kurose, but even a change like that has made a real difference in discipline, attitude and test scores at the urban middle school in a South Seattle neighborhood, said principal Mia Williams.
Now if a student is late or doesn't show up, they are called by at least one staff member. Teachers make home visits with police officers. A school-based social worker helps families work around the issues that are keeping students from school.
"The thing that works the most is that somebody notices," said Assistant Principal Jennifer Hodges.
As you walk through the hall, it is clear that the staff has memorized the statistics on every child.
Read the full Associated Press article here: http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/WA-middle-school-wins-attendance-contest-2753489.php#ixzz1ki1n109u