Attendance Policy Presents New Procedures and Priorities

Kaelyn Bates, News reporter

  Entering into the 2019-2020 school year staff at Mountain View instituted new, somewhat surprising attendance procedures. These stricter changes have made many students unhappy, claiming the change is simply “unrealistic.”

  “In the past, we’ve had an attendance policy that allowed students to be marked present even if the student only came in during the last portion of the class,” says Mrs. Harmon, Mountain View High School’s principal. “This year, we’ve asked teachers to mark a student ‘absent’ if they are more than five minutes late for class.” Not only will students be marked absent if they are not in a class by the required times, but the teacher is also required to mark down the students’ arrival time even after the 5 minute period.

  Last year’s procedure needed to be “tweaked” because it was receiving a lot of complaints for many different reasons. And though you may think it was all from prying parents, it was not. “The lack of accountability for attendance can often be an issue for teachers. We often hear complaints about not preparing students for their future by not holding them accountable for something as basic as attendance.” Harmon says. “The lack of clarity for parents about what a tardy was defined as was confusing [as well], so that was an issue for some parents.”

  It is a noticeable change that can be felt throughout the halls. Mountain View’s Instructional Leadership Team (ILT) is a group of chairpersons from all departments and administrations that helped give feedback and facilitate change for the new attendance procedures. After revisions were made in the policy Mountain View’s staff helped by giving attendance recommendations. 

 But questions remain unanswered. How can anyone be sure that this attendance plan will work? What will make this year any different than last? 

  Mountain View now has a full-time dean and assistant principals who are able to focus on issues like attendance policy. Harmon is also now having meetings each week with Mountain View’s counselors, the school dean, and assistant principals to regularly discuss student attendance, along with grades and behavior. “Through this intentional focus on student achievement and behavior,” Harmon states, “we are making this a priority.”

  Not only are meetings being hosted with school staffers, but with parents as well. The parent advisory group (SAC) will meet quarterly to review data with Mountain View, along with the ILT, throughout the entire school year. “Our new procedures are a reflection of how we’re asking administration and staff to interact with absences and tardies,” Harmon said. “I place my faith in the people – students, parents, and staff of Mountain View, if the procedures help us to firm up and focus our work, we’ll be more strategic in doing the right work.”