How lenient are you on missing school?
So I read this story on the Pinellas School superintendent rolling out her new get-tough school attendance policy. Car troubles or vacations will no longer be excused absences. You have to be in class for at least half the class to be counted present. Those who have an A or B in the first three grading periods could be exempted from taking their final exams — as long as they have no more than four unexcused absences from any class.
This is tough? Am I missing something? Maybe I'm a hardened crone, but I think four unexcused absences is still pretty high to still allow an exam exemption. If you are more than 10 minutes late to a class, I wouldn't mark that present without a good excuse. My kid has been in school 7 years now and I don't think we have even one unexused absence in all those years combined.
According to Rebecca Catalanello's story, this past year the lateness and absences were really rampant because the district did away with punishment for them because of the swine flu. They didn't want some kid rushing in with a fever because they had reached their max. So once a kid had an A, they wouldn't bother showing up much or would show up the last 10 minutes of class and still be counted present.
One of the commenters on Rebecca's story said, "Only allowing 5 absences a semester is really harsh. If a student has a good grade in the class, they are mastering the subject and should be able to exempt the final exam."
Wow, 5 is harsh? Maybe the writer isn't getting that it's unexcused absences. If they are sick or otherwise have an approved excuse, it doesn't count. Or maybe I just can't fathom how other people view school. I'm such a nerd it wouldn't even occur to me to treat it so casually.
It's nice to see these comments from teachers on the Gradebook blog cheering this on, that there's at least some accountability. Or as one teacher put it , "It might cut down on those mid-school-year cruises and ski trips."
I have heard the argument that "family time" is just as important as school time. A good deal on a cruise in October shouldn't be passed up just because school is in session. I'm not a big fan of that line of thinking because I think it sends a message to kids that school isn't that important. I could see maybe taking a Friday or Monday if travel plans are too tough to work around, but a whole week just for vacation? Enlighten me if I'm wrong on this, but it sounds like parents don't want to be hampered by a school calendar.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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