High school serves to prepare students for life after graduation, but attendance is necessary in order for students to benefit from it. Vital tools and information can’t be imparted to students if they miss school. While many can agree an overall problem across many schools is dwindling attendance as students age, there are many different approaches to deal with this issue. New York State compulsory attendance laws state that all children must attend school from ages 6 to 16. Furthermore, students attending public schools in grades 6 through 12 must be in school for 5 1/2 hours, 180 days of the school year. The goal of these laws is to provide all children with an equal education and equal opportunities later in life. Graduating high school has become increasingly important. Tardiness and absences can be linked to less than desirable grades and lower graduation rates.
To help combat this problem, our principal, Dr. Smith, has begun an initiative with the goal of increasing overall attendance. She would like to prevent the cycle some students find themselves in: when class time is missed, some students find it hard to make up work; this results in more missed information and less motivation to return to school. To do this, she has implemented a policy of notifying home after a certain number of missed periods. This increased parent and home involvement can encourage these ideals to be reinforced not just at school, but at home as well.
Under the initiative, students should expect to receive phone calls home from their teachers after 5 illegal absences. After 10 illegal absences, they may be brought in for a meeting with staff to create a plan for improving their attendance. While Dr. Smith has stated that the initiative will not institute further punishments for students who are tardy or absent, there has been an increase in the strictness of teachers with policies regarding leaving the classroom during class time. This new initiative also looks to help students feel valued within the school culture in addition to explaining the importance of attending school. As a result of this, Dr. Smith hopes students will learn about the importance of a high school education as well as the value of actively participating in the school community. So far, students have attended a homeroom presentation introducing the new initiative and have been shown statistics emphasizing the importance of attending school.
While the administration’s efforts are valiant and well-meaning, the question stands: will this program actually be able to convince apathetic students to start caring? Time will tell whether or not students will improve their attendance simply based on being told to. Without any substantial new punishments or rewards, can students really be expected to improve?