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Interactive map shows absence rates by district

KATV

LONOKE, Ark. (KATV) -- Absenteeism is not a new concern, in fact it's an old problem constantly searching for new answers.

Lonoke Public School District is among few performing better than the rest of the state, according to Hamilton Project. The study's interactive map, which can be found here -- http://www.hamiltonproject.org/charts/chronic_absence_across_the_united_states -- shows absence data for each school district across the United States for the 2015-2016 school year. Arkansas that year averaged about 14 percent, for example.

For the 2015-2016 school year, Lonoke Public School District had a 4.3 percent absence rate, but that rate has gone down since then, according to Superintendent Dr. John Tackett. He says the district's current absence rate is a mere 3.5 percent.

"The things that we do are really based on a relational approach to school rather than a place that you have to go. We want it to be a place that you want to go to," Tackett said. He credits the district's small size -- about 1,700 students -- in keeping the absence rate so low. But it's not just that, he says. Teachers and staff work closely with the students, encouraging them and helping them come to school.

"We have principals who will pick kids up with parent permission if students can't come, we have them do that," Tackett added. That, he says, and incentive programs work to keep kids coming to class. The goal, Tackett says, is not to punish students for missing class, but preemptively prevent them from doing so.

"We try to intervene before it gets there. So before we get to the place whether it's seven, eight, 10 days, there are red flags that probably go up at two or three."



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