Attendance matters

Posted on Nov 16 2011

Kagman High School is committed to providing a safe, challenging environment for students to develop and apply skills and knowledge to become responsible, productive citizens.

Our philosophy is that all students can learn. All students are diverse and learn at different rates and in different learning styles. We believe that every student’s foundation is a result of collaboration between student-teacher-parent-community. We believe that all of the principles of character shape the kind of citizens we become in our daily lives. We expect our students to be responsible and be accountable for actively participating in their own learning. And that all learning connects students with the real world.

In the real world, attendance matters. Kagman High School keeps track of attendance diligently. Every student who is late or absent is reported to the truant office. The truant officer calls home to inform parents when a student is absent, at every period. Cutting class is not as much of an issue now that we have this period by period update throughout the day.

We recognize a need to educate our stakeholders on this issue because absences and tardiness are on the rise. There is a direct connection between absenteeism and low student performance. When students are absent from class, they are not learning. These absences add up over the course of a school year making it very hard for a student to stay on top of the requirements to pass a class. Students who often fall behind, often fall out of the system. This is something Kagman High School wants to change.

At the beginning of this school year in the month of September, the average amount of absences during the first period (A) was 4.16 percent. This translates to having no less than 28 students absent on average daily. This number grew as the day wore on. By fourth period (D), that number almost doubled to 7.26 percent absent. This told us that an additional 20 students went home between second and fourth period, bringing the total number of students absent in a day to about 48 students. Every day in September, 48 students missed critical instruction time.

This number went up in the month of October. The average rate of absence for the month of October for first period began at 5.49 percent and ended at 8.34 percent by fourth period. Everyday in October, an average of 53 students missed critical instruction time.

Our data also tells us that of those 53 students, about five of them will receive no credit in one or more of their classes due to the BOE policy for block scheduling that having seven unexcused absences will result in no credit for the course.

Any time a student is absent, it is the responsibility of the parent/guardian to call the school and notify them. Parents should also provide an excuse slip for the student to take to the truant office when they return to school so the absence will be excused. Excuse slips must include the parent/guardian name, contact number, and reason for absence. All excuse slips are called and verified.

Board policy also says that if a student has shown a pattern of absenteeism, even if excused, doctor’s notes will be required to excuse the absence. We believe that if a student is showing a pattern of absenteeism due to illness, they should see a doctor to protect their health.

Tardiness is also a big issue for Kagman High School. Research tells us that every minute of instruction counts. Late students, who miss the beginning of class, miss critical information and instruction that set the direction and expectations of each lesson. Students, who miss this part of instruction, often have a hard time to catch up with their peers, and sometimes never catch up.

At Kagman High School, first period (A) experienced the most tardies on average, at 2.09 percent for September and 3.26 percent in October. This translates to having 13 students tardy every morning for September, rising to 20 students tardy every morning in October. Second and third period tardiness was under 1 percent on average; however, fourth period (D) sees a rise in tardiness on campus. Fourth period is after lunch. Students have an hour to eat lunch. There is no reason tardiness increases when students are already on the campus. Something must change.

Our data tells us that 20 percent of all students who are tardy are at risk of receiving no credit in one or more classes. So of that daily average of 20 students who are late, four of them will not get credit in one or more of their classes.

The BOE policy indicates that three tardies equal one absence. Students, who have high absenteeism, also show high tendencies for tardiness. This combination puts them at risk for not receiving credit for the classes they are enrolled in. Not receiving credit is just like failing the class. You must take the class again. This pattern will delay graduation.

In the first quarter of school, 9 percent of the student population, or 60 students, have already lost credit in one or more classes due to attendance. Our data also tells us that male students are twice as likely to lose credit as female students due to absenteeism and tardiness. Freshmen students are the highest at risk for losing credit. This quarter alone, 26 freshmen may not promote due to their attendance, if their attendance patterns continue this way. Even more critical are the 7 percent of seniors who may not graduate because of their attendance. There are 10 Kagman High School seniors who are at risk of not graduating with their class because they exceeded the board policy in the first quarter of school.

Kagman High School is committed to intervening so these detrimental patterns change. We want all of our students to be successful, and attendance is key. In the real world, being on time is important. If you are late for your job on a regular basis, you may not have that job for very long. If you are late for critical meetings, such as a job interview, you may not be chosen for that position. If you are late or absent for court dates, you might have a bench warrant out for you! Kagman High School believes that reliable attendance is a cornerstone in the foundation of a successful life. We encourage parents to emphasize the importance of attendance with their kids and support Kagman High School’s efforts by ensuring all students are at school daily and on time.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call or email us at: 237 3840 or (Leila Staffler)

Leila Staffler is a vice principal of Kagman High School.

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