As the second semester begins, many students will need to make-up absences over the limit from the first semester to get their proper attendance credits.
“I would say, without looking at the numbers, just what I see day to day, it seems like [attendance issues] across the board. It’s a combination of all grade levels pretty evenly is what it seems like to me,” Assistant Principal Candace Pearson said.
Students who pass their classes but have too many absences risk losing credit for that course. Grades and attendance are both considered to get credit for a class.
“Obviously, if you lose credit due to attendance, it just takes time to make that up and whenever it gets made up, you’ll get credit back for that course. And, for some students, they’re in a big hole, and for some it’s just an hour or two that they owe, but ultimately, it has to be made up for them to get credit for that course,” Pearson said. “Otherwise they would need to do summer school or retake the course if they don’t make up that credit.”
Once a student has over six absences, credit for that class is lost, though there are a few ways to recover attendance.
“One of those ways is by going to tutoring with any teacher, and a tutoring session is worth an hour of attendance credit,” Pearson said. “They just need to make sure to tell the teacher ‘I need this tutoring tracked for attendance,’ because there is a form that the teacher fills out, so that we know they did that.”
The usual attendance recovery route is Saturday School, which gives students five hours of credit for every Saturday attended. Students need to sign up ahead of time if they plan on attending Saturday School.
“A third option for in-person students is they can come into the cafeteria each morning at nine, and we’ve opened up the ISS classroom, and there’s a teacher in there,” Pearson said. “They can sign in and get an hour of credit each morning that they attend in the cafeteria.”
Attendance recovery for first semester will be accepted through January, unless there are special circumstances, which would require the student to work with their assistant principal on a plan for attendance recovery.
“This semester, I would say, for sure by the end of the school year, they would need to already have their attendance recovery done, because we don’t really carry that into the summer,” Pearson said.
Students can view their attendance in Skyward under the attendance tab. IP means in-person present, RA means asynchronous-present, and X means extenuating circumstances. Excused absences, unexcused absences, and tardies are shown.
“For example, as we’re starting second semester, students can start earning hours in tutoring or coming into the cafeteria right away. If you don’t need the attendance hours, we’re not really going to start keeping up with it until you need it, so if someone’s lost credit in a class,” Pearson said. “But, I would say as soon as a student starts going to tutoring, they should be telling their teacher every time to track it for attendance, right off the bat.”
Johnson averages about 50 students a week who sign up for Saturday School.
“It’s hard to say, but there are quite a few students who aren’t passing their classes that have lost credit for it due to attendance and those are easy fixes, and just need to take care of it,” Pearson said. “But then there’s quite a few students whose grade is keeping them from getting credit and attendance, so they’ve got to do a combination of the credit recovery and attendance recovery to get credit for that class.”
This year has allowed for multiple ways to attend school, making attendance more accessible and easy for students.
“I think attendance is easier than ever now, and it’s harder than ever, so in the past you physically had to be in your classroom for 45 of the 50 minutes in that class to get attendance credit,” Pearson said. “Well, now you can physically be in class, you can be on Zoom, or you can fill out your teacher’s attendance check, which I feel like is really simple, and get attendance credit.”
Virtual students are either doing well, or have more of a challenge working from home.
“However, I know that students learning virtually, for a lot of students, it’s going really, really well, but for some students who maybe don’t have a great home situation, may have learning struggles, it’s an even bigger challenge to get themselves online everyday,” Pearson said.
Saturday Academy will be a new program for students to recover credit and attendance for classes.
“It’s mostly for the credit recovery piece of a class, and Ms. Moseley, our curriculum AP, is the one who’s in charge of that, working with the deans and department heads,” Pearson said. “But, I do know that if students attend that academy, that they will also get attendance recovery hours, so it would kind of serve both purposes if they needed it.”
Students can talk with their assigned assistant principal to work out any attendance issues.
“There’s lots of ways students can get help with that if they need it, so just to talk to their assistant principal if they’re not sure, and we can help them figure something out,” Pearson said.