By Clare Driscoll, 19 and Hannah Shi, ’19
Attendance at UAHS has been a subject that the administration is taking more and more seriously, yet many students do not seem to be fully aware of the policy. With harsher consequences, the impact of a mistaken tardy or absence increases the importance of accurate attendance taking.
Tardiness, which is defined by the student handbook as “when a student is not in their required class when the late bell rings,” is marked by the teacher of that class, including closed study hall. Being tardy or missing a class will result in a consequence such as lunch detention, or Saturday school.
Though all students sign off saying that they have read the student handbook at the beginning of the year, which includes information on the attendance policy, many are misinformed on the specifics of the handbook.
Sophomore John Doe* is one student who was not clear on how the attendance policy worked.
“I did not [understand the policy] because they never told us exactly what it was, but once I started skipping classes, I learned how it worked,” Doe said.
In addition to not fully understanding the attendance policy, many students are given the impression that attendance records are given to colleges. However, colleges are not shown student’s attendance records.
Junior Ellia Metzger, who has disagreed with the attendance policy before, mentions that she thought colleges could view your attendance record.
“I was told there will be a record for colleges to see any unexcused absences and detentions which I have,” Metzger said.
When asked about the origin of this belief, Jennifer Mox, an assistant principal at UAHS, says that though the origin is unknown, some colleges do request records, making students aware of their transcript.
“If a student is applying to a college, a college may request the transcripts,” Mox said, “the college may request a letter of recommendation; [attendance records] might be included in that letter of recommendation.”
However, while a student’s attendance record is not always given to colleges, the long term effects of missing class become evident when students enter the workforce. Counselor Heather Peebles explains how poor attendance in high school can affect a student’s future.
“Students who get in a habit of missing classes are creating a pattern of inconsistencies, learning gaps, and bad habits,” Peebles said. “Future employers won’t tolerate such behavior.”
Because of the potential building of bad habits, UAHS attendance system is vital to students, and for teachers to regulate it.
Yet there have been many instances of students attending class at the correct time and still being marked tardy. One of the students affected by a faulty tardy is senior Steve Nagy.
“I’ve been marked absent for a class where I was present several times. Once, I was sitting in my normal spot and I had my headphones in and roll call went on. I got marked absent so I had to go down to the attendance secretary to fix things,” Nagy said.
According to attendance secretary Tammie Fisher, this is a fairly common occurrence, and it’s easily solved.
“It happens to about six or seven students a day … [this] can be easily fixed with a note from the teacher that’s brought down [to the attendance office],” Fisher said.
Because this is such an easy fix, there are currently no plans to avoid or solve unwarranted tardies and absences by changing the attendance policy.
Though easy to fix, Fisher says that the most common reason for students to receive a wrongly-given tardy, late passes is when students walk in with a late pass, but are unnoticed by the teacher.
But small, daily changes could be made to decrease the amount of mistakes. Mox believes that one way to prevent mistakes is for students to be more aware of their daily attendance.
“I highly encourage students to look at their Powerschool to view their attendance every day, so if you notice a teacher has made an error in their attendance and they are present, they can go up the teacher,” Mox said.
“Kids can come in late with a pass that don’t really get the teacher’s attention, so the teacher will go on teaching class and forget to go back and change it later,” Fisher said.
Though most cases are easily resolved without consequence, students and teachers occasionally disagree on what a mistaken tardy or absence can be.
Though the attendance policy has been argued over by students and teachers alike, it’s effectiveness is obvious when it comes to students who skip class.
Fisher, who deals with all types of attendance issues, says it’s fairly common for students to skip class. Doe said he skips once a day.
“Why would you go to school?” Doe said. The consequences to skipping a class, or a school day, are lunch detentions. Missing lunch detentions results in additional lunch detentions, and eventually Saturday school.
However, missing classes also has a more direct impact on a student’s education. Missing class leads to missed class work, which builds up over time. Large buildups of class work makes it harder and harder to get back on track.
Absent students are responsible for obtaining missed classwork from teachers and acquiring notes from other students. The student handbook also states that “the days allotted for completion of assignments will be equal to the number of days absent”.
Lastly, many students have noticed that in the past few years, the attendance policy has become stricter and more regulated by both teachers and staff alike.
Sophomore Frances Kirk says that she has noticed that teachers are making attendance more of a priority during class.
“In the past they would just call out names [when taking attendance] but now they’re actually checking seats and counting,” Kirk said.
There are many ways these unwarranted unexcused absences could be resolved. One way of resolving the issue is to have students take more responsibility and read the attendance policy while administration could clarify unclear parts of the attendance policy. Additionally, the student handbook could be more detailed on attendance consequences