Paly students may have noticed that teachers are marking cuts and unexcused absences more frequently, resulting in more truancy letters being sent home. This is the result of recent large-scale changes the administration implemented to improve attendance.
The Campanile would like to commend Principal Adam Paulson, Assistant Principal John Christiansen, the Attendance Team and other key administrators for their improved data tracking system and clearer system of consequences, which have helped improve attendance records at Paly.
According to Christiansen, the administration has instituded a new data tracking system that more closely monitors cuts on a macro scale as well as a period-by-period basis.
This system allows administrators to detertmine which periods students have more cuts and identify which students need more interventions.
As a result of this system, attendance records are now more organized and consequences can be enforced more appropriately. According to Attendance Secretary (and soon to be Principal’s Secretary) Christa Brown, truancy letters are sent out at three, six and 10 cuts.
Administrators contact a student in person at around five cuts and contact a parent or guardian at around nine cuts. If a student receives enough truancy letters, the issue goes to the District, and they can potentially end up in front of the Student Attendance Review Board.
This involves going to court, and consequences are not limited to just Paly. Other potential consequences for constant truants that administrators are considering include Saturday school and the loss of prep, according to Christiansen.
These policy changes are steps in the right direction and have proven effective. According to Christiansen, data from the tracking system shows attendance is “significantly higher” in Advisory this year as compared to last year. Recent records shows around 1,500 students checking into Advisory, a figure Christiansen attributes both to the more effective tracking system and Paulson’s push to make advisory more meaningful.
Additionally, as Tutorial and Advisory count as instructional minutes, high levels of student attendance are important to continue qualification for instructional minutes.
This means that attendance needs to be more closely monitored and enforced; hence why students are receiving cuts for Tutorial when they didn’t last year.
Despite the current administration’s admirable policies regarding attendance, many students are still confused about the specifics of the school’s attendance policy and the ways it has changed since last year. Furthermore, knowledge of how these policies affect attendance might increase support among the student body.
To combat this, administrators ought to publicize the school’s attendance policies, perhaps on the Paly website and in the Paly Student Handbook. On a practical level, these policies govern student life on campus. Students ought to be aware of the rules that govern their time.
The Campanile commends the administration’s efforts to increase attendance.
Though it could do a better job keeping the student body informed about the policy details, it’s clear that they’re headed in the right direction and have made significant progress.