The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Friday, June 15, 2012
We were pleased that the Franklin County School Board changed the policy related to student absences earlier this week. The policy has been under fire for several years for being too stringent and penalizing students who may perform well academically but miss too many days. Failing grades could be issued to students who missed more than five days in a nine-week period.
The new policy provides other consequences for unexcused absences, including parental notification and detention for missing one to five days. It also is more subjective, allowing cases to be determined on an individual basis.
This new policy is a more common sense approach to handling absences. It is difficult to have a completely objective policy that is also fair to everyone. Cases are different and must be judged on those differences.
Punishing a student by giving a failing grade for excessive absences, even if the student may otherwise have an "A" in the course, was simply not fair either and, again, should be handled on an individual basis. The purpose of students is to receive and master course material. Attendance is usually crucial to accomplish this, but students who miss days can and do catch up on assignments and learn what is required.
Of course, students should always try to attend to class and there certainly has to be measures in place to deal with those who don't. But those measures cannot be "one size fits all."
We also understand that attendance is important for more than academic reasons. Schools receive state funding and part of the criteria used to determine how much a school division receives is based on Average Daily Membership (ADM). The more students present each day, the higher the ADM, and that means more state funding.
Schools, with the help of parents, must have a system in place that encourages attendance, but also helps students who may have to miss days. In the end, it really boils down to the exact cause of the absences, and if they are justified. It also, of course, should include ways a student can make up any work missed.
As Sue Rogers, assistant superintendent of schools said, "We don't want students to stop trying."