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School improvement plans to identify attendance strategies

By Jessica Arp, jarp@wisctv.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 01:26:54 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 01 2013 09:44:23 PM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

http://video.channel3000.com/watch.php?id=54491

Schools across the Madison Metropolitan School District submitted reports this week on how they can do a  better job.

Those "school improvement reports" will be made public in the next couple weeks, and what's inside them may help the United Way of Dane County target an effort started earlier this year.

WISC-TV first told you about the "Here!" campaign by the United Way on the first day of school. The effort is a push to reduce the number of absences, specifically in kindergarten.

"Up to 25 percent of our Latino kids are regularly absent and about 35 percent of our African American kids are regularly absent and that's unacceptable" said Sal Carranza, co-chair of the Here! Advisory Council for the United Way of Dane County.

Now, as the chilly months of fall move into winter the campaign moves into a new phase.

"The next meeting we have with the Here! advisory committee we will be inviting the principals to come and talk to us," said Carranza.

Principals across the Madison School District submitted school improvement plans or "SIPs" this week to Superintendent Jen Cheatham on areas of teaching and learning that need new focus in their schools.

"Attendance plays in because if students aren't in the classroom the SIP isn't going to be very meaningful," said Cheatham. "The work teachers are doing to better serve students doesn't take effect unless students are actually in the classroom."

The United Way's research says there are three main reasons kids are absent including oversleeping, transportation and even bullying. The "Here!" initiative hopes to change that by things like wake-up calls to parents or community walks to the school bus.

"Many of the strategies we have been talking about the principals have told us they are already doing," said Carranza. "It's more of a matter of talking to the principals and saying, 'What can we do to help you?'"

Those school improvement plans will be made public the week of November 11th to co-incide with parent-teacher conferences. The United Way is finalizing a group of eight elementary schools they plan to focus their efforts and then likely expand those strategies to other schools.

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