An Absence Policy that Finally Works

by Ethan Sherr

 

This year’s absence policy has incentivized students’ attendance for the greatest number of days possible. This year’s absence policy was made with the intention of keeping students engaged in Northwest Yeshiva High School’s (NYHS) academics and activities.

Under the current absence policy, freshmen, sophomores and juniors are allowed five absences per class per semester, while seniors are allowed seven. If a student exceeds his or her absence limit, his or her grades will suffer in the class that they missed. This consequence is effective because the majority of the students care about their grades and will go to school in order to keep their grades at a reasonable level. If students don’t go to school, then parents will notice the grade deduction and make sure their child goes to class. The grade deduction works so well because it creates a tangible consequence.

Another beneficial aspect of the absence policy is the 11 a.m. rule for NYHS athletics. A student who is not there by that time will not be allowed to participate in that day’s game or practice. This is another step to ensure that students don’t skip school; it stresses the importance of balancing academic interests with extracurricular interests.

The absence policy encourages students to remain in their classes as well, because if students are gone for more than 10 minutes, it is counted as an absence. Therefore, this policy will encourage students to not only come to class, but also to stay there.

On the other hand, the policy does have some flaws. For example, grade deductions won’t necessarily be enough to ensure that students come to school. The real incentive for many students is missing the material taught that day. Students might come if they do not want to miss class material, but a simple grade deduction is not enough to forge a long term solution to students missing class.

Overall, NYHS has been impacted positively by the new absence policy, and hopefully this policy will have more specificity in the future by clarifying types of absences that would be excused. There needs to be a list of criteria that would differentiate an unexcused absence from an excused one, so students can check their situation against the policy.