PARIS — Oxford Comprehensive High School administrators say one of the major reasons some freshmen students are failing classes is absenteeism.

But how to conquer that problem is the question.

“That’s the answer I don’t have yet,” said  Director of Applied Learning Pat Carson who, along with high school assistant principals Laurie Catanese and John Springer,  presented  information on a new program to reduce failures in the freshmen class at the December 3 school board meeting.

“You’re working with kids that are not coming to school you’re on your 42nd phone call home and you’ve gone by the house twice you’re just not reaching that student,” he continued. “You’re just not reaching that student.”

The SAD 17 Board of Directors were told by Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School educators that a new program – Building Assets, Reducing Risks (BARR) – to reduce freshmen class failure appears to be working, but absenteeism  continues to be a driving factor in the class failure issue.

“If a kid is going to be absent in that 10 percent area (of absenteeism,) it’s almost a guarantee they’ll fail one to two classes; when you get to 20 percent,  those are the kids who are going to come out of their freshmen year struggling,” said Carson. “When we get kids to school they do well.”

Carson said the Building Assets Reducing Risk program is aimed at improving student performance during the freshman year  by improving relationships and establishing structures and resources aimed at making each student successful.

The goal is to have at least 90 percent of freshmen students passing six or more of their classes. The program has already witnessed a reduction in failure from 226 classes in the school year 2015-2016 to 91 this past school year. The failures represent about 20 to 25 students in the freshmen class, said officials.

The four core teachers serve as an advocate to between 14-17 students each. Carson said meetings are held, phone calls are made and other methods are taken to resolve the student’s issue.

“It’s ultimately a huge factor,” said Springer of the absentee problem. “We’re focusing on attendance. How do we encourage kids to be there. How can we emphasize what they’re doing well when they come through the door.”

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