In thinking ahead to September, I want to alert you that in the fall, Brookline High will implement new student attendance procedures. We introduced the procedures to students last month. In this letter, I’ll describe why we developed the procedures, explain how they were created, and let you know what you can do to support successful implementation.
Why new attendance procedures?
Previous practice around attendance at BHS set no limit on the number of student absences in a course. This has allowed students many more absences than are necessary or advisable, and as a result, has allowed some students to compromise their own learning . . . (click below to read more)
Faculty and administrators have been working for over five years to create attendance procedures more in line with our academic values and our mission. The new procedures reflect one of our central beliefs: a fundamental part of a Brookline High School education is being present. Within our courses, the relationships and interactions with teachers and peers are, more often than not, as important as the formal curriculum. And while our modes of teaching are beginning to include a fusion of face-to-face and virtual learning spaces, we certainly still value the classic mode of students working at the elbow of master teachers. As well, collaboration with peers is one of the indispensable twenty-first century skills that we develop in the classroom with all students.
After a lengthy and inclusive review process, we have revised the procedures. The new procedures were drafted multiple times and approved by the Faculty Council, the Administrative Council, BHS Legislature (students and faculty), the full faculty, and the School Council. We believe the procedures set reasonable absence limits, with built-in warnings, in order to preserve the coherence and integrity of a student's education. Translated into numbers, the new procedures state that a student must be in a class at least 85% of the time. The procedures define our expectations and consequences for excused and unexcused absences.
How can you help?
I am asking parents to partner with us beginning in September to support our efforts around attendance. Please familiarize yourself with the new procedures, which are enclosed, and discuss them with your child—especially the overall limits on course absences—as well as the importance of being present in class. Call in absences within 3 days, since after 3 days absences become unexcused. Please only excuse your student for partial day absences when they will be out of the building, such as for a medical appointment. Also, carefully consider the impact of missed classes on the yearly total when making appointments for students during the school day, as well as family activities that might take them out of school.
As with any new policy or procedure, we will study its impact and evaluate it by looking at attendance data next year. We are beginning to introduce students to the attendance procedures by framing them within Brookline High's motto of "freedom and responsibility." Please join us in supporting a successful implementation, and if you have questions, as always, the deans’ offices are happy to help.