No-consequences attendance policies have encouraged students to skip class, teacher Loren Green told the Albany, New York school board. They're learning there's no need to show up and do the work, said the high school English teacher, reports Kathleen Moore in the Times-Union
Albany High School teachers are “encouraged” to pass students even if they fail the class, said Green, who's taught in the district for 27 years. "Administrators passed 15 students who he failed last year, he said, including students who had not turned in any assignments and one student who had never attended his class, didn’t do any assignments and did not take the English Regents." He teaches 11th grade and Advanced Placement English to 150 students: Only 51 have turned in all six assignments set so far. Outgoing Superintendent Kaweeda Adams counseled against a strict attendance policy after the teacher spoke. “There’s a punitive nature we really have to resist,” she said. “While there may be consequences for our students, if we cross that line, the very students we are trying to bring back into the fold are the very students we will lose. To do it in a punitive way alienates our students and alienates our families.”
Brian Huskie, a colleague of Green's, sees both sides. "He works very hard to provide engaging learning experiences for students who are largely refusing to participate, or to even show up."
On the other hand, some students may not have the ability to pass college-prep requirements, Huskie writes. "We need to radically diversify pathways to graduation," so more students can succeed.
Of course, "there will be students who are never going to be successful in school, even if they had all the choice of programming in the world," he concludes. "And if we do set up safety nets for those students, there will always be otherwise capable students who manage to take advantage. It’s a difficult, maybe impossible, balance."