Initiative aims to increase academic performance at Western Heights Middle School in Oklahoma City

Organizers of the One Kid Challenge hope adult involvement will help student academic performance at Western Heights Middle School in Oklahoma City.
BY NASREEN IQBAL Niqbal@opubco.com Published: December 19, 2012
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Moving forward

Kitchens said the school's high rate of absenteeism is one factor in poor academic performance.

For the 2011-2012 academic year, Kitchens said, the attendance rate was 93.4 percent, compared to the statewide average of 94.8 percent.

“There is a direct correlation between the rate of a student's attendance and their academic performance,” Kitchens said. “We did a study with OSU a couple of years ago that showed that the top three factors that impede academic success are attendance, discipline and mobility.”

“If you think about it, those three factors are related,” Powell said. “If the student is mobile and always moving between schools, often they're going to be absent. Then the stress of being the new kid can cause bad behavior and discipline problems. If a student's basic needs aren't being met, if they're not in a stable environment, it creates a fundamentally unfair situation for them.”

Kitchens said stability is the key to academic success.

“The less turnover you have with the staff and with the students, the better,” he said. “Right now, the attendance laws in this state say that often if you move, you don't have a choice to stay at the school you're at, and I believe that children and parents should have the choice.”

Atkins told the students and volunteers on Saturday he isn't sure what results the program will yield.

“We're trying to move everyone forward,” he said. “Our first goal is to get this D to a C. We'll start there.”