Sunday, May 13, 2007
posted by Q6 at 10:17 PM
One of the things that's sitting on my desk waiting for the AP Tests to end is the Attendance referrals: students who have been missing too much school.

"Too much" absence, I've found, is a subjective issue. The school has guidelines for attendance, with regard to tardies and both excused and unexcused absences; the District Attorney's office (which has waited a good ten years to finally get involved) believes that only unexcused absences count, and they won't deal with the 11th and 12th graders. I could go into why all of this makes sense, but the Internet isn't large enough for the explanation. Suffice to say that yes, I understand why the DA has this view, and I'm fine with that.

Here's what DOESN'T make sense: many of the students with excessive absences (excused and otherwise) are still getting perfectly decent--if not above average--grades. It would seem that the teachers themselves have their own set of criteria for attendance. In short, they have no problem having their classes treated as correspondence courses. I understand that the web is a handy tool for education, but I think there comes a point where an empty seat should mean something. I've been saying this for a while now, but few people seem to be listening. Are we trying to teach students that attendance and punctuality are important, or are we training an entire generation of future telecommuters? Has attendance stopped being a part of classroom management, or are grades now commensurate with bandwidth? It seems to me that if we really wanted to make attendance an issue, those who are too frequently absent would have report cards that suck. Otherwise, we should scrap the attendance policy altogether and install another T1 line.

Maybe we should webcast the graduation.



At 8:52 PM, Blogger Mr. McNamar

As our school year winds down, and the attendance numbers dwindle in my Senior Pre-College English class, I begin to feel that maybe attendance really should be subjective.
As a freshman in college I attended Biology all of 8 times and was able to get a C. I was content. In another class, I went four time and received an A.
Sometimes I think the same should apply to my seniors. Instead of fighting them, just let thme go--as long as they bring me Starbucks the next day!
By the way, I will be adding you to my blogroll--lucky you!


At 7:50 AM, Blogger Sherman Dorn

Attendance is a catch-22 issue: students need to BE THERE, but there's a legitimate argument that including attendance de-emphasizes student work. As a college faculty member, I don't even have truancy laws working in my favor, so I invoke the truth of the matter: a class is a collective organism, and you're shorting your responsibility to others if you just want to treat it as a correspondence class.

Hillsborough County (Florida), where my children attend school, have an interesting reward for good attendance: you get to excuse yourself from finals in some elective classes (not the core academics). The number depends on how good your attendance is, and I assume it includes attendance across ALL classes, not just the period that counts for ADA.