Encouragement is the key to absence issues


Itzel Sanchez

Changing the rules surrounding absences and tardies has not changes the issue of chronic absenteeism.

You stroll into class and put your bag down, waiting for your friends to arrive. Knowing what it’s like to sit in your room alone for a Zoom class, you are excited for a lively period surrounded by your peers. You look up as the bell rings, hoping to see a full classroom – it’s more fun that way, after all – but aren’t surprised when you see half the amount of people missing from class.

This reality has become all too familiar for students at DGS.

The problem of low attendance and high tardiness is a common problem across the state. Chronic absenteeism is defined as being absent for 10% or more of the school year. Since 2020, chronic absenteeism has skyrocketed from 11% to 29.8% in 2022, and for DGS, the jump was from 13.8% in 2020 to 23.3% in 2022.

With such a huge problem, it would be obvious to look towards the administration to get our peers back in class for stimulating class periods and little interactions that can’t be made up, unlike a missed quiz. However, even the administration seems like it’s had some unexcused absences in relation to fixing this problem.

They have been partially present to offer two ineffective solutions: changing the tardy policies and Mustang Way videos.

Regarding new tardy policies, administration has decreased the time period to receive a tardy from 20 minutes to 10 minutes, meaning any student arriving to class more than 10 minutes late will receive an unexcused absence. This solution has barely had an impact on the number of absences; however, the absences have gone down slightly in the last month.

When it comes to Mustang Way lessons, administration falls a mile short. Mustang Way lessons are impersonal, intangible and tedious. To put it bluntly, 10-minute videos on a boring subject with an administrator droning on during the period that we have as a break won’t bring about any change.

Instead, we at the Blueprint believe that high school students will more likely respond to positive reinforcement. Though it is our responsibility to take charge of our education, some students need a little bit more to help them take those steps. If the student doesn’t see value in even showing up to class, these incentives will help them get their foot in the door.

These incentives can be small: they can include things like admittance to restricted areas during the school day, being able to go to the commons during Access, or being given priority to the conference rooms on the first floor.

Furthermore, it would even be beneficial to ask the opinions of the students that are chronically absent to see what would motivate them to go to class.

In the end, what truly matters is making sure that while they are still students, they are getting the education that will help them be more successful in life later on. This won’t be accomplished by a couple impersonal videos on planner methods and grit.

Education is a privilege in this world – we need to encourage all students to take advantage of it.