SHHS calls on parents to help improve attendance

Sweet Home High School Principal Pat Stineff wants to encourage parents to help out with student attendance.

Student attendance at SHHS was key in setting a low rating for the school on last year’s school report cards. Although the school’s overall rating moved from low to satisfactory this year, its attendance rate dropped by 1 percent to 85 percent. The school was able to bring its rating up through improvement in other factors, such as student performance.

Right now attendance is down as a result of illness throughout the school, Stineff said, but generally it remains a problem at SHHS. The school has made some of its own attempts to deal with the problem, including the use of its truant officer and changes in graduate requirements.

“One of the things we’re trying to overcome is senior apathy,” Stineff said. When seniors have the minimum credits they need to graduate, but the school wants them to take five classes, “they don’t care if they get an F. They just skip.”

This year’s juniors will be required to earn 26 credits, two more than this year’s seniors, who can enter their senior needing only one and a half credits.

The new elective requirement, which is the school’s initial attempt to address certificate of advanced mastery requirements may help keep seniors in school, Stineff said. The new requirement, affecting this year’s sophomores, will require students to take at least four of 12 electives in an interest area before they graduate.

“We are hoping, as a side effect, that will provide an impetus for them to be there,” Stineff said. “This whole battle is not one the school can fight on its own.”

SHHS can put students on detention and give lower grades, but “we really do need help from the parents,” Stineff said. Parents need to help students understand that it is important to go to school and earn good grades.

While in school, students get a chance to explore things they’ll never again have the chance to do, Stineff said. If they plan to continue their education, “they’re really developing some poor study habits.”

After stressing the importance of attending school and doing well in school, Stineff said, parents can monitor how their children are doing in school, “really take part in the kids’ education.”

They should call the school, talk to their children’s teachers, Stineff said. Children whose parents do that usually do better.

“We need all parents to be partners in their kid’s education,” Stineff said. “It worries me the number of kids that want to drop out or just go get their GED.”

Those students are thinking in the short term, Stineff said. They need to be thinking in the long term, and that’s where parents can help.

“Working with the parents is the best thing for us,” Stineff said.