Improve School Attendance Rates

Here in the Northern Panhandle, we sometimes like to boast that our public schools are better than the state average. That’s nice — but it is not enough.

Last week, state school Superintendent Steve Paine told the West Virginia Board of Education that student absenteeism is a serious problem. It is most prevalent in southern counties, he emphasized.

But it is a concern here, too. Though student attendance rates in all six Northern Panhandle counties are at or above the state average (92.95 percent), a closer look at the numbers is worrisome. During his presentation, Paine noted the concern is greater for high school students, and that seems to be the case here.

The state’s “Balanced Scorecard” rating system includes attendance. In our area, five high schools — Brooke, Cameron, John Marshall, Magnolia and Valley –are shown as not meeting the state attendance standard. All the other high schools meet it only partially.

Don’t blame educators. They do what they can to get students to class. State officials need to find ways to do more, however.

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