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Clinton Middle School uses 20-day challenge to encourage attendance

Posters hang throughout Clinton Middle School in Tulsa to promote 20-day challenge to encourage classroom attendance. (KTUL)

TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) -– Monday marks the start of week two of the academic year for Tulsa Public Schools, and Clinton Middle School is working to be an example in the district by making sure all of its students are going to class.

Principal Michelle Brown and staffers started a 20-day attendance challenge on the first day of school to help limit truancy and keep parents away from paying court fines.

Brown said, thankfully, the school does not have a truancy issue and is working to gain even higher attendance ratings.

“Missing school is missing out' is our slogan. We tend to say that to the kids all the time just to try to create that excitement and reason to be here," Brown said.

The principal said the first 20 days of school sets the tone for the rest of the year. If a student misses two days per month, studies have shown the absences could put their education at high risk.

“They can really set not only themselves back academically but their class. Their teachers having to repeat instructions, they’re having to catch those students up,” she said.

Oklahoma truancy laws will hold parents accountable for a student missing too much school. The penalty depends on the numbers of days missed. The first offense could cost parents a $25 to $50 fine or up to five days in jail. The penalty gets worse—by the third offense, parents could pay a $100 to $250 fine or up to 15 days in jail if the neglect continues.

Clinton is part of the ‘Diplomas Now’ organization, which is made up of three partners: City Year, Communities in Schools and Talent Development Secondary. The programs work to improve attendance, behavior and course performance, as well as increase student involvement outside of the classroom.

“If a student is off track in any one of those areas without intervention, they only have a 25 percent chance of graduating from high school,” said Lory Takawira, a coordinator with Clinton’s Talent Development Secondary program.

Takawira said the school’s attendance is in good standing -- it's one of the top schools in the Diplomas Now program. She said attendance has been improving over the last three years. To continue the success and growth, Takawira said Clinton implements its Early Warning Indicator System to help incoming students.

“Identifies students who are falling off track or sliding in attendance behavior and course performance," Takawira said.

If students stay on track to meet the goal, they will be rewarded with a party and other prizes. Brown said they hope the incentives will help motivate students to get to class.

“We really do want our kids here...and we just really try to encourage them to be her and let them know that we want them here," Brown said.

The 20-day challenge will end Sept. 19.

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