New program improves attendance for Williamson Elementary students

Staff report


From August through January, about 145 of the 372 kindergarten-through-sixth-graders at Williamson Elementary School hovered at the high-risk mark for missing school days.

By the end of February, that number dropped to seven students.

“We’ve been meeting with parents about attendance and we’re having this dance for the kids,” said Principal Michelle Payich.

Krish Mohip, Youngstown City School District’s chief executive officer, instituted five-week reviews late last year, using behavior, attendance and grades – BAG – reports. Teachers and principals are able to review that data, spotting problems in any of those three areas for individual students.

It’s an early-warning system, enabling school personnel to intervene quickly and provide support for students who need it.

At the end of a five-week period, school leaders meet to review the data and determine the best course to help student needs. They then set goals for the following five-week period.

John LaPlante, district chief information officer, and his department developed the BAG reports and instructed teachers and administrators how to use the data.

Williamson students who showed improved attendance for the last five-week period and maintained good behavior poured into the school gymnasium Friday afternoon as music blared from speakers. They danced along with music. Teachers got into the fun, too.

The dance incentive worked so well, Payich is considering making it a reward every five weeks.

When the dancing was done, the students filed into the school cafeteria for snacks and drawings for prizes donated by Making Kids Count, a Boardman-based nonprofit organization that serves Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana and Ashtabula counties. The group provides school support, parental assistance and other services.

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