Imagine the shock of getting a 6:15 a.m. wake-up call with the booming voice of a high school principal reminding you to attend classes that day. That’s what’s now happening to chronically tardy and truant students in one Massachusetts high school.
These calls, started earlier this month, are aimed at about 20 percent of the school’s 2,400 students. Administrators hope the calls will help to increase average daily attendance from the current 88 percent to at least 95 percent.
Attendance is important for several major reasons. One is that truant students tend to get into more trouble with the police. Theft, vandalism, drug dealing, gang activity and other criminal acts tend to rise along with truancy. Students who don’t attend classes regularly are more likely to dropout — with significant problems for later life. And this school, like others across the country, receives money for each day a student is in class. For administrators, keeping students in class is a good financial move.
Other schools considering this approach can easily program the calls into an emergency notification system that can also be used to alert students and parents of campus emergencies or more mundane events such as weather-related school closures.
I applaud anything that makes it more likely that kids will attend classes. As a memo on the website of the Massachusetts school says, “Chronic tardiness and absenteeism is not tolerated in the world of work and will not be tolerated here.”
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