5. Attendance Should Not Be a Part of a Student’s Grade.

In my Standards-Based Grading post last weekend, Anon Y. Mous asked that I explain the rationale behind each of the core guidelines involved in the S.B.G. system. I think it’s a good suggestion and here is the fifth core guideline. Please comment with any corrections as I am still learning this new system. 🙂

If a student is absent, should the student be able up the work no matter what? May a student make up missed assignments regardless of the reason for the absence? According to the S.B.G. system, the answer to each is a resounding “yes.”

A student’s behaviors, like attendance, should not impact a student’s academic grade. The impact–positive or negative–of attendance will show itself during the assessments of the standards. Attendance could be a part of a citizenship grade.

A school’s intervention system should be part of the accountability system for students. If a student purposely misses a class, the intervention system would then be used to provide the consequence outside of the classroom. Inside of the classroom the impact is felt when the student completes a standards-based assessment and when the student attempts to catch up on the missed work. Some activities cannot be recreated, and many teachers will not have the time (or the inclination?) to reteach a lesson purposely or inadvertently missed.

I have always maintained that I don’t care the reason for a student’s absence. Either the student is present or the student is not; I can help those present and cannot help those who are absent. I do not track excused or unexcused absences. I just don’t care. I focus on helping the students when they are in my room. I always have two versions of every test, and almost every other assignment is written in a manner that an extra day or two makes little difference. The only question I want answered is this: can the student perform the skill or prove content mastery?

I don’t use a participation grade based on attendance either. I don’t believe students should receive points for what they are supposed to do. To me, attendance is a basic expectation and will not be factored into a student’s grade. The results of attendance will be seen, much like a student’s homework completion rate, during assessment time.

P.S. I don’t really like my tone in this post, but I’m not feeling well and don’t feel like doing any editing. Sorry. 🙂


6 thoughts on “5. Attendance Should Not Be a Part of a Student’s Grade.

  1. mrschili

    First of all, it’s snowing on your site. Are you trying to torture me, or what?!

    Second, this is an interesting post for me because one of my students is writing his persuasive paper opposing the “three absences and you’re out” rule in the English department at Local U. I’ll write more about it on my site, maybe this afternoon; I’ve accepted the kid’s challenge to write a paper in favor of the policy, and I’ve got to get that done by Monday…

  2. Little Swallow

    My high school German teacher stopped using participation points mid-year, because she said it didn’t seem to have any effect on students’ grades. Those who didn’t participate, didn’t do well on tests, and vice versa. I’m still eying some of your list warily (though overall I like your ideas on grading), but this one is quite reasonable to me.

  3. Mr. McNamar

    Drpezz–I haven’t read the entire list, but will do so after commenting here. I also don’t care why a student was not in class. But, I won’t seek that student out to make up missed work or schedule an after school meeting to go over missed content. I believe that what matters most is whether the student can do the skill. Even as a teacher, I am a product guy and not so much a process guy–meaning, it shouldn’t matter whether I write out a perfect lesson plan; it should only matter if I execute that lesson plan.


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