Friday, August 04, 2000

Better Fairfield attendance credited to policy

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        FAIRFIELD — A policy that denies course credits to students who miss class too often has reduced absenteeism at Fairfield High School by more than a third, school officials say.

        During the 1998-99 school year, an average of about 9 percent of students were absent each day. But last school year, that number fell to about 5.6 percent.

        Principal Monica Mitter attributed the decline to the policy, which will remain in effect this fall.

        “The fact that students potentially would not earn credit re-emphasizes the importance of attendance,” Mrs. Mitter said. “Students will take as many days (off) as we give them. We have to stop giving them days.”

        Attendance is one of 27 factors on which schools are judged by the Ohio Department of Education for its annual report cards. Fairfield High had not met the state attendance criterion on the 2000 report card because of its absenteeism rate during the 1998-99 school year. School officials think they will meet that criterion on the 2001 report card. To do so, absenteeism must not exceed 7 percent.

        Students who miss more than eight days in a semester class — or four days in a nine-week course — are denied credit even if they make up the work, unless they present proper documentation for the absences, Mrs. Mitter said.

        During the first nine weeks, 162 students were affected, but 54 percent of those — 88 students — provided documentation and received credit. After the first semester, 324 students were denied credit, but 203 sub mitted the paperwork and eventually received credit.

        After the first semester, students “got serious, understood the policy and were better about documenting their absences and better at bringing in notes,” Mrs. Mitter said. “This is the best attendance we've had in the past five years.”

        Fairfield Freshman School Principal Bob Polson said fewer than a dozen students each semester lost credit.

        “It probably did make kids think more about attendance, but we didn't have a big problem to begin with,” Mr. Polson said.


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