School started Tuesday in Council Bluffs and returning students are noticing some distinct changes. Superintendent Martha Bruckner says she’s implementing new policies designed to increase attendance and boost graduation rates.
They’re calling a daily 10 A.M. attendance check district-wide. “We’re going to have teachers and principals take a minute and say, okay, look around, who’s here, who’s not here, why aren’t they here and how can we help them be here?” Bruckner says. “Also, we will very prominently in schools track that attendance rate at that 10 o’clock call every day so kids see a visible reminder that this is important.” Bruckner says there will be staff members on-hand in the middle and high schools to work with students toward success.
“We had some folks in jobs that were called interventionists and we’ve changed that title this year,” Bruckner says. “Those jobs are now called graduation coaches because that’s what their job is, to help coach kids to be graduates. We want them not to just graduate from high school but to go on after that.” Bruckner says they’re also working with local employers, encouraging them not to let students work during school hours or late in the evenings.
“We have too many kids that when they get to the age that they can make a living, or they can make a wage that they think is a living wage, the temptation is to drop out of school,” Bruckner says. “We need their bosses saying, no, stay in school, finish school and then we’ll have an even better job for you.”
Bruckner says students with poor attendance records typically have lower academic achievements than those who attend on a regular basis — and have a much smaller chance of graduating on time, if at all. The average attendance rate of students in Council Bluffs is 91%. Bruckner wants to see that reach 95%.