SASD implements a new district wide policy
March 29, 2019
SASD implements new school attendance policy
The Stroudsburg Area School District has recently implemented a new school attendance policy to encourage school attendance. However, people are questioning why SASD’s policy for allowed “sick” days are much lower for students than the state’s requirement.
Pennsylvania’s state policy of attendance states that students are allowed to miss 18 school days, which is the equivalent of 10% of the school year. Stroudsburg Area School Districts (SASD) policy allows students to miss only 10 days.
The statewide average attendance rate is 85.4%, according to the Future Ready PA Index. SHS has an attendance rate of 77.4% which is 8% lower than the state average. The SASD administration is doing its best to improve its overall percentage rate.
Attendance affects the way a school is viewed on an academic level. Schools get a grade based upon how they perform and attendance is taken into strong consideration when being graded by the state.
There are also legal aspects when it comes to the new attendance policy.
“School attendance is critical, “said SHS principal Mr. Jeffrey Sodl. “If a student doesn’t show up to school for an extended period of time or if they don’t provide the school with a note for being absent, then courts have to be notified because of the laws that exist.”
The new attendance policy also affects how our schools gets funded. The more students that show up, the more funding the school receives.
The new attendance policy not only plays a vital role in how SHS gets rated by the state, but also how students perform academically. Attendance goes hand in hand with higher graduation and fewer dropouts.
“Besides just learning content, it’s a valuable experience being in class and absorbing knowledge,” said Sodl.
Missing school deprives students of the experiences needed to fully learn a topic. This endangers them of not performing well academically and getting behind in their studies. SHS provides services such as math lab and other tutoring. These offerings can help a student gain the information that was learned while they were absent. The new attendance policy hopes to encourage more students to take advantage of these resources.
“When I come back to school after being absent for more than one day I’m completely lost and often find myself asking friends for help or just going to math lab,” said sophomore Julia Deihl. “These programs help me understand, but they still don’t compare to what I would have learned in that class when I was gone.”
The new attendance policy not only affects the students, but the teachers, as well.
“When a student misses school, it creates double work for me because now I have to make sure that I have the work posted on Google Classroom, and I also need to make sure that I print out handouts for those who cannot access classroom,” said English teacher Ms. Jessica Appolo.
Still, it’s not all about grades and performance levels. Students with low school attendance miss the community and social aspect of a school environment, and the new attendance policy hopes to solve that issue.
“High school is about making memories that make school fun. Growing up I loved school and that’s why I never missed it. My parents valued education and I never missed more than 1-2 days of school a year,” said Sodl.
High school shapes students both socially and academically. It provides them with an opportunity to earn a proper education and allows them to socialize and make memories.
Students at SHS voice their opinions on the new SHS attendance policy
Students at SHS have mixed opinions when it comes to the new SHS attendance policy, stating that they are only allowed to miss 10 days of school. While some students believe that the new policy should be enforced, others claim that it’s an unnecessary nuisance.
For the most part, many students feel that the SHS attendance policy barely affects them, since they are motivated to attend school on a daily basis to participate in extra curricular activities, electives of their interest, spending time with friends, and to avoid getting detention, and more.
Extra curricular activities such as football, show choir, and many others, require students to attend school activities before practice or a match. As a result, students who are involved in extra curricular activities are already motivated to show up to school on a regular basis.
“I’m always motivated to come to school so that I can participate in the clubs I’m involved in,” said junior Brianna Mydosh.
Disciplinary action is a very strong motivating factor for students to show up to school as well. Students receive detention if they accumulate six or more unexcused absences.
“The new attendance policy doesn’t affect me drastically because I’m always attending school so that I don’t get a detention,” said sophomore Elise Paputchi.
The SHS administration works hard to offer a rich curriculum with electives on a wide variety of subjects that students can choose from. Such a wide variety of options provides students with motivation to attend school because students are inspired by subjects that appeal to them. These electives include foreign languages, digital photography, cooking, art, journalism, and many more.
“My favorite classes at school are the electives that I was able to choose for myself in the beginning of the year,” said sophomore Julia Deihl. “It’s those classes that make coming to school more enjoyable and fun.”
On the other hand, some students claim that the attendance policy is not an effective measure to ensure that every student receive a quality education.
“The attendance policy proves how important school really is; it shows students that coming and learning is a valuable experience,” said sophomore Caroline Liszewski.
But the new school attendance policy can backfire, and instead of increased school attendance, schools can face increased absences. It’s a very common practice among students to skip school, as a result of stress and frustration from academics. Stress due to academics can lead to depression, and at times, frustration towards the school.
This can cause many students to have a negative attitude towards school, and not come to school in the first place, no matter what repercussions they face. With the new school attendance policy in place, schools may result in issuing more detentions and disciplinary actions. Some students believe that the new school attendance policy can have a negative effect on students who are already struggling with attending school.
Overall, school attendance is crucial to academic success. With rigorous efforts from school administration to make school an enjoyable and safe learning environment, the administration hopes that the new attendance policy can only encourage more students to attend school.
Is the SASD attendance policy effective?
When it comes to implementing an attendance policy that has proven to be effective, has Stroudsburg High School succeeded? This question can be answered in a variety of ways.
The policy states that students allowed to miss 10 days of school, as long as they provide a note from a parent or guardian. If students exceed the 10 day limit, they must bring in a doctor’s note or they will likely face disciplinary action.
According to the PA Future Ready Index, SHS has a leading attendance rate when compared to all high schools in Monroe county. SHS allows 10 days vs. the state limit of 18. Could our better attendance rate be due to stricter rules referring to attendance?
To enforce the policy, we’ve have been looking at students that are absent at various stages of the school year for extended periods of time, and we make an attendance improvement plan with the student and parent,” said SHS principal Mr. Jeffrey Sodl.
Some argue that the policy causes more absences than before, but others maintain that the policy has motivated them to come to school more to avoid disciplinary action.
“I think the policy gets more good kids into trouble because all students need to attend activities with their families and sometimes during school is the only time you can see them,” said senior Richard Bolds.
Senior Kyam Wilson also expressed his concern with the policy.
“The attendance policy isn’t fair because the school might never know what your situation is at home,” said Wilson.
The administration acknowledges that disciplinary action is sometimes necessary, but they make sure that it does not result in lost educational time for students.
“I always prefer assigning in-school suspension over out of school suspension because if the students are in school they will still be learning and will not forget the work that they had already accomplished,” said Sodl.
Students still find themselves missing school for various reasons, but where should the line be drawn when it comes to missing school. Students often debate whether missing school for a day is worth it when it comes to all the work they’re just going to have to make up later.
“Whenever I’m not at school it’s because I’m sick, I never miss school for any other reason,” said sophomore Ryan Kennedy.
Educational trip forms allow students to legally exceed the 10 day limit, but only if the form is approved by the principal. These trips can result in students falling further behind in their work.
“I had a lot of makeup work to do when I took an educational trip as well as more work to make up when I returned to school, but if you do the work during the downtime on your trip you can get it done,” said sophomore Colton Ruchman.
The attendance policy has not so much changed over time, but evolved. It has made coming to school more important and critical. Sodl and his staff believe that is important for students to attend school as much as possible.
“Making parents aware about the issue of attendance is a huge first step,” he said.