Attendance, Part I
Ninety-six point four (96.4) percent. During the 2016-17 school year, 96.4 percent of the students from grades 9 - 11 who earned/maintained a 2.5 or greater cumulative grade point average (GPA) had an attendance rate of greater than ninety (90) percent. Yes, that is correct. Of the 528 Belton High School students who earned/maintained a GPA of 2.5 or greater, 509 of them attended over ninety (90) percent of the time last year. (As a point of information, closer examination of the same data across the separate grade levels produces virtually the same result for each class. Furthermore, these figures are similar over time when one examines different groups of students. Attendance does matter.)
Our “target” rate for all students is ninety-five (95) percent. This is intentional and is the percentage which aligns with the criteria required for attendance for those who wish to earn scholarship through Missouri’s A+ Program.
To convert a ninety-five (95) percent attendance rate into an approximate number of days during a school year one could afford to miss, one would land on 8.5 days/year or roughly 4.25 days/semester.
Attendance tracking represents a significant portion of the Missouri School Improvement Program (MoSIP) initiative. The (MoSIP) “target” rate for a school is 90 - 90. In other words, ninety (90) percent of the students attend ninety (90) percent of the time. We certainly want the same for Belton High School and look forward to the date this is achieved. However, we must and shall continue to encourage every BHS student to pursue the ninety-five (95) percent figure to enable all BHS graduates to place themselves in a position to qualify for Missouri’s A+ Program and earn two years of tuition-free post-secondary education.
To convert a ninety (90) percent attendance rate into an approximate number of days during a school year one could afford to miss, one would land just shy of 17 days/year or roughly 8.5 days/semester.
We also wish to acknowledge there are situations which are simply unavoidable such as an extended medical leave. In these unique cases, an appeal process may result in school officials being able to work through a process to extend an exception to the ninety-five (95) percent rule.
Please understand… all *processes to address non-attendance are designed to accomplish one of two things. They are to… 1) encourage good attendance and discourage one from non-attendance, and, 2) reinforce timely attention to coursework missed due to an absence. This focus is based on data regarding the positive correlation between a student’s grade point average and attendance. “No Credit” status being assigned to coursework where excessive absences has occurred may, in fact, feel punitive. Instead, it is designed to serve as a deterrent to one’s electing to miss school. (*For greater detail on processes to address non-attendance, this can be found in the student handbook as well as the supplemental documentation found on the BSD Website.)
Attendance, Part II
Stating the obvious… our society counts on each of us to attend to the business of whatever it is we are involved and to the extent to which we are able. Whether this involves maintaining a focus during conversation with another, paying attention while driving, showing up for work ready to produce or attending school with a purpose. We lean on one another to play a role and to do our part. This notion of everyone in society doing their part is reinforced early with our young people when we hold them accountable to attend school and to do their very best in school.
Our ultimate aim is to develop the processes which reinforce positive behaviors and discourage conduct which is counter-productive. With regard to school attendance, our society has an expectation that our school-age children are in school. There are layers of processes to achieve this end. Some are found through the legal system, others involve policies put in place by schools and finally, the households across this country which provide the food, shelter and a place our society’s young call “home” outline their own set of rules relative to school attendance. Ideally, these processes align.
At Belton High School, we have a “target” rate of ninety-five (95) percent for a number of solid reasons. For purpose of outlining a response to encourage regular attendance and discourage non-attendance, we will focus on Missouri’s standard of ninety (90) percent. Ninety (90) percent attendance equates to roughly no more than 8.5 absences per semester or 17 absences per year. The actual accounting is figured in minutes. The “critical number” of 1440 minutes for the semester and no more than 2880 for the year.
During the course of a semester, a student is encouraged to log “make up” minutes for minutes missed.
Students who exceed the “critical number” of minutes are subjected to “No Credit” status for each class where five (5) or more absences occurred. Should “No Credit” status be reached, the student will be required to participate in a program which requires research of an assigned topic, written work, additional assignments and defense of his/her work prior to being able to retrieve the credits.
To avoid “No Credit” status, a student who does approach or exceed the “critical number” is able to log “make up” minutes for those missed. This is not the ideal. However, our process must provide a solution for those who will fall short of the Missouri standard of ninety (90) percent. This practice also provides encouragement for everyone to attend more regularly and a disincentive for excessive absences.
In other words, should a student miss school or know they will miss school, he/she is encouraged to log “positive minutes” into his/her respective “bank” to make certain he/she is not subjected to “No Credit” status for having accumulated excessive minutes of absences. Students who miss time during week one of school will have until the third Saturday to capture the minutes from week one. If he/she fails to do so by the designated time, the minutes from Week one are logged toward the “critical number” for the semester.
This is not a perfect system by any means, but the idea is to have students make up their minutes in a more timely fashion and, in essence, use this time to stay current with the coursework in question. For those who know they’ll be absent, they are encouraged to collect their work in advance and log positive minutes in advance of their absence.