It's a problem that affects counties around the state; students missing many days of school, which could eventually lead to a student dropping out. But in Barbour County, Superintendent Joseph Super and his staff have been working with Circuit Judge Alan Moats to bring those rates down. It's an effort that's making a difference in Barbour County, where staff said having students in their classrooms is essential.
"The fact that 95 to 99 percent of learning that takes place with a child in elementary middle and high school is specifically the time that they're with their teachers," said Glenn Sweet, attendance director in Barbour County.
But education isn't the only reason Moats, Super, and Sweet want to see the number come down. The numbers are unforgiving: the more school days kids miss, the harder their path will be for the rest of their lives.
"They become more likely to become involved in juvenile crime, more likely to get involved in drugs, and once that happens they're less likely to ever graduate. Once they drop out, they really don't have much hope for the future. Eighty percent of kids who drop out of school, at some point in their lives, end up in the criminal justice system or incarcerated," said Judge Moats.
One way Super and Sweet are working to address the issue is to have the schools be more proactive in their work to keep kids on the straight and narrow, especially when parents may be dropping the ball.
"That's the best way we can address it. Yes, moms and dads are our best first line of defense, but if that does break down, then it's our obligation to step it up, and that's what we do," said Super.
Since Super began at Barbour County, he said the dropout rate as shrunk from over 20 into the single digits.