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Is Gloucester High School’s Attendance Policy Causing Students to Fail?

Students have reported that Gloucester High School’s attendance policy has made graduating high school more strenuous than it should be. Gloucester High School, ranked 188th in the state, has a graduation rate of 90.6%; but how easy is it to achieve such a percentage? High school students already deal with enough stress as is: picking classes, keeping up with grades, and planning for their future. All of these things must be done with no more than 24 absences a year. Gloucester High School’s website states that “Any student with 12 or more total absences in a semester-long class or 24 or more total absences in a year-long class must submit an attendance waiver to the school,” but coming from a student who has been struggling with the school’s attendance policy since freshman year, I can tell you that there is a lot more to it than that.

If you exceed GHS’ absence limit, you will have to apply for attendance recovery and attend a series of 3-hour detentions depending on your attendance. Now, that might not sound that bad, but the attendance recovery student limit is 100 students per recovery session; I have had instances where I have had to wait until another session because the limit of 100 students had been reached. Once you have done the attendance recovery, you must complete and have a parent or guardian sign an attendance waiver form stating why you missed the amount of days that you had missed as a way to appeal to your administrator as to why they should pass you. You could go through all of that, or you could just not miss over 24 days out of the school year. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. The school’s website isn’t entirely accurate; A student is assigned four classes in a semester, and one day missed counts as four absences, so if a student can only have 12 absences per semester, that means that they can only miss a total of three days out of the semester. Well, what if those absences were excused? While the school website shows that they’ll excuse absences that include anything from doctors’ notes, court dates, civic, and cultural events, they don’t tell you that they still count these absences against you; are they even “excused absences” at that point? I interviewed both former and current students that attend(ed) GHS to better understand different points of views involving the school’s attendance policy. A lot of current students described the attendance policy as “way too strict,” and that “excused absences should remain excused.”

Some students even stated that they had turned in multiple doctors’ notes explaining why they had missed the amount of days that they had missed, but the school didn’t validate it. One student (who wishes to remain anonymous) that no longer attends Gloucester High School because of issues with attendance says, “the doctor gave me a medical advisory paper saying to excuse me from school if I miss any due to medical reasons; signed by three doctors, and the school failed me academically because the papers I sent in for them didn’t approve.” The school didn’t advise this student of any ways of fixing the academic failure. The same thing happened to the student the next year resulting in him leaving Gloucester High School; it was only then that the staff at GHS tried to assist him in aiding his attendance. While a few students did state that they hadn’t had any problems with the attendance system, most of them didn’t like that one day missed counted as four absences.

Now, let’s get a staff point of view; I interviewed three teachers and all of them agreed that they wished the attendance policy was “stricter.” One teacher says, “When students miss multiple days of school, it affects them and their grades in a negative way,” they also had stated that they had witnessed two students miss the same amount of school, and one failed, but the other passed. Another staff member says, “After 8th grade I do not believe that students should be required to attend school, they should either choose to work, or advance in their education.” The last teacher I interviewed said, “The only thing I would change is more transparency regarding the rules.” They think that the deciding factor for the attendance waiver should be clearer, and that students should be better prepared and held more accountable for their attendance at lower grade levels, as to ensure that when they get to the high school the attendance policy doesn’t come as a shock.

All in all, Gloucester High School could stand to make some changes to their attendance policy for the betterment of the students’ academic success. For example, instead of one day counting as four absences, it should just count as one full day missed, and “excused absences” should remain as “excused absences.” Students shouldn’t have to leave GHS because of its attendance policy, and the attendance recovery rates should go down. The simple solution isn’t to “just go to school” because there isn’t a simple solution to a problem that isn’t simple.


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About the Contributor
Jade Scott
Jade Scott, Staff Reporter
My name is Jade Scott, and I’m a Junior at Gloucester High School. I’m 17 years old and I hopeto major in Sociology and Psychology after graduating. I’m taking journalism so that I can be avoice for the students at GHS. I’m going to be a staff member in journalism for the secondsemester.

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