Inside Attendance: What’s Good and What’s Bad About the Priority on Attendance

Attendance has steadily decreased by an average of .3% each year since 2012 and stands at 1% lower than the state average 95.7%, according to Texas Academic Performance Reports. Surrounding schools like Lake Travis High, Austin High, and McCallum fall below our percentage, so whats the big deal? 

School funding in Texas is heavily tied to the average daily attendance (ADA). The school receives a certain amount of funding for each student accounted for in the ADA. So when students skip, it brings down the average ADA and effects how much and where the school can spend its money.

Attendance is a tricky issue to accommodate, because punishing students with detention or suspension usually doesn’t encourage them to attend and be active in class. Because of this, some school districts have shifted to encourage good attendance rather than punishing poor attendance. Angela Gamez spoke with surrounding school districts, and noticed that their exam exemptions policy had been effective to encourage better attendance. So, at the start of the spring semester three incentives were presented to the study body in hopes to increase attendance: exam exemptions, priority parking, and requiring a certain level of attendance to attend field trips.

While incentives such as priority parking may motivate students to show up, they don’t entirely address the issue. One way to increase attendance is by improving the environment that student’s spend almost all of their time in. This could be made possible by inviting students to paint a mural in the hallways so that they feel more a part of the community and introducing more activities that include the entire student body such as board game tournaments or reintroducing the JAM.

Encouraging student engagement in school through team building and stress-free activities will ultimately shift students’ perception of the school day, and likely increase attendance. As students start to enjoy and look forward to their school day, attendance should benefit in addition to the students.

This section is an editorial.

Student Responses (out of 31)

What changes (if any) would encourage you to skip class less?

“Be allowed to leave early if class assignments are done.”

“Rewards like exemptions and parking passes.”

“If students want to skip, they will.”

“Get a little reward for not skipping class every other week.”

“GPA boost.”

“I may not skip, but I have certainly thought about it, and the prospect of losing my ability to exempt a final has made that a much less desirable option.”

“More engaging classes.”

Would policies like B-lot parking for perfect attendance, skipping finals, and field trip requirements inspire you to skip less?

Yes: 33%

No: 16%

Maybe: 22%

I already don’t skip: 27%

Angela Gamez, Principal:

“There’s just been a slow decline. So it’s nothing like all of a sudden from this year from last year. I think we’re about 1% lower than state average. And in a community like ours, there really isn’t a reason for that because our community values education and that kind of thing.”

“It’s something that we do need to address. Because when students aren’t in class, even if they’re passing the class and not attending, we know they’re going to get a better education when they’re in school. Yeah. So we want to try and make that a priority.”

Mr. Drillette, Admin

“I think people respond to expectations, and especially expectations that are fair and make sense. And so if district leadership or campus leadership puts expectations on students, and students go ‘This isn’t fair’ it doesn’t change behavior. In fact, it almost may turn behavior the other way. But when students feel like they’re included in their part of it and they understand the reason behind it, absolutely, I think it will change and it will prove so anything that has [a] positive focus on generally, those areas change and they change for the better.”

By Tessa Stigler, Editor-in-Chief

Featured photo by Tessa Stigler

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