Term Paper: Program Attendance Policy Proposal

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[. . .] " (Garry 1996).

For these and other reasons it is accepted that the standards and practices of the alternative school institution must offer a more flexible and/or more non-traditional set of standards. These standards must promote growth in the learning environment rather than the re-institutionalization of earlier penal style standards and codes that failed to meet the emotional or educational needs of special needs students. Of course directed consideration of safety within the school setting is also important a prison like inflexibility does not serve the needs of student, staff or community and in fact directly contradicts the goals of the P.A.S.S. program.

School administrators are in a position to see firsthand the impact of truancy on students. Most school administrators, however, attempt to change truant behavior through punishment, in particular by suspending children from school (Illinois Task Force, 1980). Although it is difficult to gauge the psychological and educational damage incurred by suspending children from school, it is clear that suspension inhibits children's development (Garibaldi, 1979). (Miller, 1986, p. 49)

Yet another work calls question to the use of suspension and expulsion as a deterrent for an at-risk student, and especially a student who no longer enjoys the learning environment.

Does it make any sense to use expulsion from school as punishment for a student who no longer enjoys school and academic learning? Expulsion from school for this type of student may be an asset to the teacher, but it does not help the student. It only supports the student in getting further behind in coursework, which adds to the long-term problem. As D.J. stated, being expelled was like a vacation. And Iesha could not wait to get back to school to "finish the fight." (Kennedy & Morton, 1999, p. 65)

Promoting the stark difference between the alternative school setting and the standardized and inflexible policies of the traditional school setting is often the one of the most effective tools for the retention and success of the special needs student body. When students feel that they are cared for and that the individual and often demanding circumstances of their lives are considered when decisions about their future are made they feel more able to respond to and achieve success with in the academic demands of their education.

Reviewing the standards and practices of other similar institutions and even an occasional proposal for change will assist the P.A.S.S. team in the determination of the adoption of new standards and practices for the changes in the P.A.S.S. program attendance policy. The Linn-Benton Education Service District and ERIC collaborated to produce At Risk Youth in Crisis: A Handbook for Collaboration Between Schools and Social Services. Within this extensively data driven and useful text is a large work, which focuses on attendance services. (ERIC & LBESD 1992)

Volume 5: Attendance Services, addresses everything form the reasons for student absenteeism to some creative and helpful solutions for procedure development and implementation. (1992) Though this work focuses mainly upon the abilities of students and faculty to cope with the retention of at risk students in a traditional school setting there is some focus given to the alternative school model.

As P.A.S.S. is an independent school facility, beginning with the information about procedure development in a traditional setting is called for. The P.A.S.S. team attendance policy committee, once established must give equal regard to the best practices of the traditional models of attendance policy as it gives to the alternative models as the ultimate goal of the institution is to increase student success. "Student absenteeism is a shared responsibility and its impact is felt by all. Most problems of attendance are related to a combination of problems associated with the student, home, school, and community." (ERIC & LBESD 1992)

As the reasons for truancy are diverse so the solutions must also be. "...Improving attendance demands viewing absenteeism as involving the interactional relationship and interrelatedness of each of the determinants rather than viewing it as the result of a simple causal problem." (ERIC & LBESD 1992) Many traditional models for viewing school issues seem outmoded the issue of chronic absenteeism are no different.

The traditional view that proposes a linear cause of chronic absenteeism assumes that something [is] wrong in one area -- such as a student, school, community-causes the truancy problem. Instead we must use an ecological perspective that emphasizes the reciprocal nature of the relationships between the student, family, school and community. Only then will out interventions be effective. (ERIC & LBESD 1992)

With the P.A.S.S. goals of inclusion, also set forth by the PA standards a nonlinear model of understanding fits best within the framework of changing the practices through a collaborative and representative committee that includes all parties of the ecological model above.

Through the assessment of best practices using data driven procedures and plans the issues surrounding the goal of the increase of the average daily attendance at P.A.S.S. from 80-85% to 90% will be met. The Assessment Committee/s will be provided with current literature on the subject as well as correlation data from within the P.A.S.S. system to help guide the decision making of the school on policy planning and implementation that will further grow the strength and learning community of the P.A.S.S. alternative school.

Instruments and Procedures

The development of a sound and collaborative policy committee is the first responsibility of the P.A.S.S. program. Much of the work of forming such a committee will be done through the same means as those used to develop the Planning and Needs Assessment Committee to evaluate and implement best practices for the expansion of enrollment in the P.A.S.S. program. The committee will comprise the some if not all of the same members associated with said committee and will include staff at P.A.S.S., student representatives, parents, members from Phillipsburg High School guidance, a member from central administration, and a member of the Phillipsburg Board of Education.

Once the establishment of the committee has taken place research shall begin that will address specific issues of past policy and desired changes. There will be student input, teaching input and parent input on three questioners to be administered and correlated by the staff at P.A.S.S. The initial survey will be offered to the teaching staff it will read as follows:

Review our current credit restorative practices for those students who have amassed more than 7 cumulative absences in respective academic areas. Teachers submit a form; I then meet with students and assign credit restorative practices, whether that is pre-session, red level, signed homework, or removal from work-study. Teachers then should remit the forms after the student has completed the credit restorative practice to the student file, as this becomes a part of the student's Individual Program Plan. Should this change in any way?

List other potential credit restorative practices i.e. signed homework forms, progress reports, etc.

Should 7 cumulative absences continue to be the number used to implement credit restoration?

Is a schedule change needed for next year? If so, adopt the attached schedule or create another proposal.

Define cumulative absence similar to the high school or should we have another component? (See second attachment Xeroxed from the high school student handbook.) What about an appeal process?

Methods by which teachers will track classroom absences. (EasyGradePro, Filemaker, Pentamation in the Main Office)

Mandatory parent/teacher/counselor meetings for students with excessive absences and how we might implement them as a deterrent to student absences.

In addition to this survey one will also be provided students who have in the past or whop are presently participating in credit restorative processes. The student survey will be designed to help students identify in a correlational way the reasons for their absences and the ways they feel they might be able to avoid them in the future. It will also ask the student if he or she believes the absences to have affected their ability to stay current in their coarse work and if they believe that they are presently or were presently receiving a passing grade before during and after his/her episode of 7 or more cumulative absences. These statistics will then be compared to actual grades and/or course progress reports whenever possible.

Following the teacher and student surveys will be a letter to the parent of the students who have been referred to the Credit Restoration Program. The letter will contain a survey that will include questions that address the parent's understandings of the possible reasons the student was absent 7 times cumulatively. The survey will also ask for solution proposals from parent addressing, what they think they, the student and/or the school might do in the future to assist his or her child to achieve success in an attempt to catch-up from the absences and to avoid future occurrences of frequent absences.

It is clear that one way that a school can improve the average daily attendance is through the implementation of an informational campaign that more clearly outlines the effects… [END OF PREVIEW]

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