• EQUITY: Stamford High Schools To Change Absence Policy

    December 12, 2023

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    Stamford Public Schools will be changing the attendance policy at high schools starting in January.

    The current policy requires students to be marked absent if they arrive more than 10 minutes late to class. Five or more absences in one semester could result in loss of credit for the course.

    But starting in 2024, attendance will be removed as a component for grading. And students would only be marked absent if they miss more than half of a class.

    The policy was formally added to the district regulations on December 1st and will go into effect on January 2, 2024.

    People in favor of the move say it considers the "numerous challenges students face in getting to class on time and levels the playing field for disadvantaged students."

    Another term for that is "equity".

    Board of Education member Versha Munshi-South said the new rule, "takes into account the diverse situations and living environments of students and doesn't penalize them for missing time inside classrooms."

    Those opposed to the policy think that the change sends the wrong message about attendance, and actually encourages students to miss class... which seems like a big problem in a district were 23% of students are chronically absent.

    “If you open the door and tell a kid that you don’t have to be here, the child begins to understand that you don’t want them there," said Westhill High School educator Ruth-Terry Walden.

    Others concerned about the new policy suggested that classes might not be rigorous enough, thereby leaving students bored and uninterested in attending class in the first place.

    The new regulation doesn't include explicit penalties for students who miss class time, and instead will offer intervention and support services which could conceivably extend to "tier three" services (e.g., involving social service, health and housing agencies) for those with the most severe "obstacles' to getting to class on time.

    Students can still fail a course, so missing a lot of classroom learning and instruction time could still be problematic for students who are chronically late and/or absent.

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