Board of Education to change attendance and loss of credit policy

Dec. 12, 2003, midnight | By Katherine Zhang | 20 years, 6 months ago

Policy Committee rejected recommendations made by work group

The Montgomery County Board of Education (BOE) recently rejected the recommendations suggested by a work group convened to draft a new policy regarding student attendance and loss of credit.

The BOE's Policy Committee has since mandated that the work group reconvene to prepare a new recommendation, according to Sharon Cox, Vice President of the BOE and chair of the BOE's Policy Committee. The work group was told to "come back with a new set of recommendations in March and a timeline for the implementation," said Cox.

According to Cox, the facet that made the work group's recommendations "unacceptable" was the requirement that students who lose credit in a class must still receive a grade in that class. Essentially, this meant that after losing credit, a student would have to stay in the class and receive a grade but attend summer school to obtain credit for that subject.

"How can you get an A or B or even a C in a class, for a teacher to say you were there enough to master the concept but not get credit?" questioned Cox. "When I saw that you could get a decent grade and not get credit, I just said no, this is unacceptable."

Furthermore, the recommended changes stated that students who miss more than ten percent of their classes in a subject would be eligible to lose credit regardless of whether the absences were excused or unexcused.

Under the changes proposed in the recommendations, teachers with students who missed more than the allowed number of classes would submit the names of the students to a committee, which would decide whether the student should lose credit, said Assistant Principal Patricia Hurley. The committee would either deny the student credit or arrange for the student to follow a contract for the rest of the semester in order to receive credit.

The BOE saw the need for a new policy regarding attendance because current policy is ineffective, said Cox. "One of the issues was loss of credit was not an effective tool in getting students to attend [class]," she said.

In addition, Karen Crawford, Coordinator of Student Affairs and advisor of the Montgomery County Region of the Maryland Association of Student Affairs (MCR), attributed part of the need for a new policy to the fact that some students do not know how to appeal their loss of credit. "I think a lot of students who could've appealed loss of credit didn't because they didn't know [how]," she said.

The Board called for the creation of a work group to make recommendations but did not specify who was on it, according to Cox. The school system chose members for the work group, which included two students. In addition, the Board was "very interested in having representation…from families that typically don't have access to the system." These families, said Cox, included parents who do not have time to talk to administrators about their child's loss of credit or parents who are not fluent in English and do not understand the implication of loss of credit.

A draft of the proposal was introduced at an MCR meeting, according to Crawford. The meeting took place on Nov. 20.

MCPS Deputy Superintendent Dr. Gregory Thornton also found the suggested changes to be unsatisfactory.

The Board of Education decided that loss of credit was too complicated of an issue to be included in the grading and reporting policy that was implemented and later repealed at the beginning of this school year, according to Cox.

In the meantime, Crawford predicts that the new policy will probably not be implemented in the near future. "It will not probably get to the board table until next spring," she said. "We'll probably still have [current policy] in effect next year."

According to Hurley, the recommendations also included provisions that allowed excused absences for student job interviews and certain family vacations, which would be decided "depending on the purpose of the trip and the feasibility of making up the work."

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Katherine Zhang. Katherine Zhang likes French baguettes, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, bookmarks, fresh boxes of rosin, Brad Meltzer novels, and of course, "JAG." In her free time, Katherine enjoys knitting, playing the violin, and reading - especially legal thrillers and books about people in faraway places and long-ago times. … More »

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