The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

Attendance Policy Adjusted

IMG_3737The Commonwealth of Virginia Compulsory attendance laws along with Fairfax County Public School System has always been known for its strict attendance policy. Prior to this school year the policy was that if a student got three unexcused absences in a class, he or she would fail for the quarter. Now, after many meetings with parents, debates and thoroughly analyzed research, the School Board has decided to abandon the previous policy.

Now, with the new attendance policy, students can no longer be punished academically for unexcused absences. “Attendance is a behavioral issue, not academic,” says the new Dean of Students Hassan Mims. “So why are you punished academically for a behavior issue? We could do other cool things instead to change the behavior and help the students be successful.”

The old policies of failing and suspending students for truancy are being replaced with alternative methods with an emphasis on increased intervention. “We’re going to try to identify the behavior early, and apply immediate intervention and communication with parents,” says Mims.

Teachers are being encouraged to build excellent relationships with the student and address the behavioral issues that often cause students to skip school. “Some students have real problems,” says Mims. “Half of them don’t care, but half have serious problems. It’s our job to teach content and do more.”

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Instead of impersonally failing a student on a piece of paper, teachers will confront the student and ask them what is wrong. If the absences persist, the issue moves up to the Dean of Students and guidance counselor working with the student to solve the issue. They continue the intervention and counseling, but also can administer detentions, pull the student from after-school activities, and revoke school parking privileges. “Our attendance intervention system involves communication, coordination, and more collaboration, “ says Mims.

Most of the old policies for excusing a student from school are the same, with the exception that family trips and vacations will no longer be excused. Some students are upset about this, but teachers agree with the new policy. “There are 183 school days and 365 days each year,” says Math teacher Judy Fisher. “Subtract 183 from 365, and you have all those days to do whatever, but don’t take my 183.”
Students and teachers alike are in favor of the new policy. “I actually think it was too harsh,” says Freshman Jessica Campanilla, when asked about her views on the old policy. “It gives the students no chance to change.”

Also, many teachers feel that students who have missed three class periods unexcused are already receiving an F. “All [the new policy] does is it takes away an administrative chore,” says Fisher.

Students also felt that after receiving three unexcused absences, there was no point to coming to school. The old policy caused more absences and it was obvious to the School Board that this policy was ineffective, and needed to be changed.

The Annandale administration also hopes that the new attendance policy will put a bigger emphasis on student leadership. “Students should encourage other students to be good and help others to make smart decisions. Students can influence each other in so many ways. Our students can be implicit mentors and mentees to each other for the common good of the AHS community,” says Mims.

The new system is all about helping the students and better school engagement. Whether it’s the teachers trying to talk to them and help them with their problems, or students helping their peers to rise to their potential. “This is asking everyone to step up, and actively help our students,” says Mims.

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  • K

    Kelli GarnerSep 26, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    I enjoy this site, it is worth me coming back

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    ElcorinSep 24, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Hi, to GoogleReader!
    Thank you

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    Bill Bartmann_-Sep 10, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Excellent site, keep up the good work

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