I keep watch of our attendance figures and pay attention to trends from year to year. As a district, our overall yearly attendance percentage is relatively consistent. The elementary and middle school averaging around 95% each month, with our 9-12 building averaging between 91-94%. Change is incremental when watching attendance. I want to make enough of a difference in climate that attendance increases.
Here’s the part that has me fried today. We’ve made significant improvements in grades 9-11 for every month this year, but our Seniors are making me crazy! Their attendance was as low as 86.58% in November, while our freshmen and sophomores were each up to at least 94%.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, we have an attendance policy with negative consequences for frequent absences to include loss of credit in a class for 25 days missed in the year. We conduct positive school wide programs to encourage attendance and we work really hard to create a caring, supportive environment where students want to come here.
I’m frustrated because I’m at a loss in problem solving this issue. I’ve read the literature, I’ve tried different approaches, and still our attendance for seniors is down 2.63% in December and 4.41% in November. Even if I compare to the senior class of 2004, prior to my arrival, this year’s class is still down in October and November, lower than any senior class in the past four years. How do I turn that around?
Why do I care? Because currently our senior guidance counselor is meeting with seniors who have done little to nothing in some classes, possibly add in poor attendance, and will fail courses by January’s end that precludes them from graduating. They know they’ve done nothing–it shouldn’t come as a shock, and yet they’ll be frustrated and upset at the news that a diploma is not happening.
Seniors who read G-Town Talks, I know you’re not many and you probably don’t fall into these categories, but please realize that poor attendance and lack of effort have dire circumstances for your peers. I really want to give every one of you a diploma on June 22, but you have to earn it first. Your Gowanda High School diploma means something, it’s earned, not given away. Show up here and participate. Please.