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School Board revises high school attendance policy

Staff Writer

Making up missed work sooner and faster and hopes of keeping the attendance rate high in Lincoln County schools were factors that caused the Board of Education to revisit the attendance policy in local high schools.
At last month’s board meeting, the group approved a plan that will allow students to miss eight days per semester, excused or not, before failing a course, rather than six.
This may sound like two extra freebies, but there’s a catch.
There will no longer be a recovery program available for students to make up missed days according to the new plan, which was put into motion based on administrators’ feedback, Superintendent Sherry Hoyle told the Times-News last week.
The attendance recovery program was the biggest area of concern for school officials, who said that many students weren’t able to participate in the program, due to schedule conflicts or transportation issues, Hoyle said.
Lincolnton High School Principal Tony Worley is optimistic about the changes to the policy and the effects it will have on the students and how often they are missing classes.
High school students are now in classes for 90 minutes, rather than the previous 45-53 minutes they used to spend in courses. So when a student misses even one class there could be quite a bit of information that they won’t be learning.
“When the kids miss these 90-minute classes, they are missing out on so much material,” Worley said. “I think a strict attendance policy will keep our attendance high and without attendance, the kids won’t be getting the education they need; the goal is to have the kids learning the entire 90 minutes.”
As the attendance policy used to stand, students who missed a class would make up the time by staying after or going in before school. After the 90-minute class periods were made up, students were able to recover up to three unexcused absences a semester.
Hoyle reported that school administrators felt that having the two extra days off would be more beneficial to the students than the recovery option. However, though high school faculty members are working on decreasing the amount of time students are missing from school, Lincoln County has an “A” in attendance, with a daily average rate of 95 percent.
Before, students were missing classes and making them up through the recovery program, but weren’t always punctual about getting it done, Worley said.
“The ideal situation is for the student to return to school and get caught back up within a 5-day period,” Worley said. “The closer the student makes up his or her work to the time they missed, the better it is for them and their instructors.”
This isn’t a black and white issue, however, and will be evaluated on a per-situation basis. Students missing more than the allotted time can make an appeal to a faculty committee, which is selected by the principal.
The committee takes into consideration other factors, such as academic achievements and why the student was absent.

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