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Staff Editorial: DCPS takes misguided approach to attendance reform

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Staff Editorial: DCPS takes misguided approach to attendance reform

Photo courtesy of Max Pixel

Photo courtesy of Max Pixel

Photo courtesy of Max Pixel

Photo courtesy of Max Pixel


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DCPS needs to make up its mind. After hastily reinforcing its attendance policy in the middle of last year, DCPS has done a complete 180, reverting to an overly lax attendance policy which takes away almost all emphasis on students going to school. The new policy allows students to be absent for 30 days in a class—nearly one-third of an entire course at Wilson—without any direct impact on the student’s transcript.

The Beacon was openly critical of last year’s sudden emphasis on attendance, and more so the consequences given to students for rules they didn’t know they had already broken. Both in policy and implementation, DCPS failed its students. So we were very happy to see it go, and we were relieved that a new policy was announced over the summer. However, the new policy is not close to the solution DCPS needed to compensate for its previous blunders.

Wilson and DCPS worked very hard last year to stress the importance of attendance. While their efforts were executed poorly, they came from a good place. Students *should* be in school, and asking kids not to miss exorbitant amounts of class per advisory or to show up on time to most classes most of the time is completely reasonable—which is why this extreme policy change is unsettling.

We commend DCPS for fielding student/parent concerns and attempting to please them through instituting a new attendance policy at a more convenient time. Although it was timely, the new policy disregards the struggles that the DCPS community underwent trying to adjust to such a drastic change last year. Many students’ lives were sent off-track because of an attendance policy that DCPS now admits was just not that important.

Although the previous policy produced an overwhelming amount of negative consequences, it did one thing well: it made clear that DCPS cares about attendance. But now, we aren’t so sure.

DCPS needs to send a clear message about its rules and priorities. If school starts at 8:55, why are there no penalties for students coming in at 9:00? If being on time to class matters, why are there no penalties for excessive tardiness? If showing up consistently matters, why are there no penalties for missing too many classes in an advisory? Do you have to be in class to learn, or do you have to mostly be in class to learn?

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Staff Editorial: DCPS takes misguided approach to attendance reform