DCPS decisions should be made with consideration for what is best for the students, and should not be knee-jerk reactions to public relations crises. Following the scandal at Ballou High School, DCPS called for an immediate crackdown on the implementation of the preexisting attendance grading policy intended to combat truancy, seemingly as a response to the bad publicity the school system has received. The enforcement of this policy was impulsive and reckless, and is detrimental to students’ ability to meet graduation requirements.
According to the policy, five unexcused absences in an advisory results in a grade reduction of one mark entry (for example, a B would be changed to a B-), ten unexcused absences results in an FA for the advisory, and 30 unexcused absences results in failure of the course. Until the media put DCPS under a microscope, DCPS was not concerned with whether or not this policy was enforced across the city.
Despite the fact that the policy began to be enforced halfway through second advisory, absences accumulated during the first half of the year will count against students’ second advisory grades and beyond. This unfairly punishes students for the disorganization of the school system. Students who receive “failures due to absences,” are not allowed credit recovery, meaning that there are students who will be required to attend classes they have already failed. For seniors, the implications are greater. Failures due to absence will prevent graduation.
To make matters worse, the policy was presented to Wilson students during their first period classes, ironically the class most truant students are likely to miss. There are students in this school who may be completely unaware that their absences will affect their grades.
The repercussions of this policy will only alienate those students who may already be struggling. A student’s education and future should not be compromised just because they are seen as a statistic.
PHOTO COURTESY OF CREATIVE COMMONS