Utah officials begin statewide push to boost school attendance

Posted at 7:10 PM, Aug 29, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-30 23:47:06-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A statewide push to get more children to attend school could lead to higher graduation rates and lower poverty numbers. And some school are already getting started on the initiative.

Damaris Anzaldo, a sixth grader at Majestic Elementary School, wants to be a dentist when she grows up, and she said going to school every day is important for her to reach her goal.

"I tried to be here every day because school is important and every minute counts," Anzaldo said.

Last year, she had 100 percent attendance and she plans to do it again this year.

"Education helps you to become whatever you want," Anzaldo said.

And educators agree: student success in the classroom is often as simple as just showing up.

"That is the number one thing to help kids get on track to academic success, even more than the way we teach them or what we do in the school: Getting here every day consistently matters more than anything," said Todd Theobald, Principal at Majestic Elementary School.

Experts said that habits form at a young age, and as part of a push to get parents to get their kids to school consistently, Gov. Gary Herbert proclaimed September as "School Attendance Awareness Month."

During the next month, the State Board of Education along with the Governor's Office and several other agencies will be working together to find policies, procedures and state laws to increase attendance at Utah's schools.