SIDNEY — What is more important for a Sidney High School student — mastering the class he or she is enrolled in or class attendance?
That issue was discussed Monday night during the Sidney City Schools Board of Education meeting. Superintendent John Scheu explained why he was recommending a section of the SHS handbook dealing with attendance and class grade be eliminated for the second semester of the 2015-16 school year.
Principal John Geuy, Director of Curriculum Brooke Gessler, Director of Special Education Tamara Drerup and Scheu recently met to look at what the school district could do to improve the graduation rate for the district. One of the issues that they discovered was affecting student performance was a section that deals with grades and attendance.
The section states: “For a student to receive a passing grade and credit in a course for a nine-week grading period they may not be absent from that class more than six times. Students who are absent more than six times will receive a 59 percent in those respective classes. This includes excused and unexcused absences.”
“We decided mastering the course material was more important than the number of days they were absent,” said Scheu. “A kid could have an ‘A’ in the class and have seven excused absences and flunk the class. This will be a pilot class to see if it improves the graduation rate.”
Board member Mandi Croft, who is a former SHS teacher, said she has seen many students in that situation while she was teaching.
“If it happens in the first four weeks of the quarter, they have no incentive to do any of the class work,” said Croft. “They told me, ‘None of it makes any difference for me.’ These are the kids that are at risk and are falling between the cracks.”
Geuy was asked if the proposal could be made retroactive to the first semester. He said it would require going through the grades of 900 students, changing GPAs if necessary, readjusting the top 10 students and sending the changes to the state reporting system, EMIS. He said there could be possible implications to the district if they tried to change the EMIS report.
Board member Bob Smith said it didn’t quite seem fair to the students who flunked a class in the first semester under similar circumstances that will be allowed in the second semester.
“It’s like a new marijuana law going into effect and you got arrested the day before it went into law,” said Smith.
Board member Paul Heins said the policy is a zero tolerance policy on attendance and it just doesn’t work for schools.
Other portions of the attendance policy, said Scheu, remain the same.
The board approved Scheu’s request to remove the section from the attendance policy in the handbook.
The board’s next meeting will be Monday, Feb. 16, at 6 p.m. at the board of education building.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.