Students do their best in school when they attend daily and arrive on time. That is the core value behind a draft student attendance and engagement policy issued for feedback today, April 20.
Last year, the department issued a discussion paper on attendance and used the comments it received to guide the development of this draft policy. The Council to Improve Classroom Conditions recently reviewed the policy and made revisions based on feedback from teachers that the policy must have clear expectations, accountability and that the school’s decision cannot be overturned by school boards.
“Teachers have told us that poor attendance and late arrivals are growing issues that are impacting the classroom environment for all students. Students need and deserve to be in the best environment to learn and prepare for their future,” said Karen Casey, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. “Through this policy, we want to provide students, teachers, administrators, and parents or guardians with the support they need to ensure students are present and engaged in their studies.”
The draft policy clearly defines what is and is not an excused absence, how absences need to be explained to schools, and how a school will go about addressing absences and chronic lateness. This may include, in cases of extreme unexcused absences, loss of course credits at high school.
A key focus of the draft policy is ensuring students get the supports they need to improve their attendance. This could include referral to other school-based services like a guidance counsellor, school psychologist, or mental health clinician.
“There are complex issues behind chronic lateness or absences for some students and we do not want a policy that punishes them at a time that they need help. This policy ensures that vulnerable students receive inclusive, fair and equitable support,” said Ms. Casey.
The draft policy is available online at www.ednet.ns.ca/student-attendance-policy-consultation. Nova Scotians are asked to submit their feedback by end-of-day May 9 via one of the options listed.
Feedback will be considered in finalizing the student attendance and engagement policy. A final policy will be in place for the upcoming school year.