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The Academic Senate receives many requests from the field, and most of them come through the Senate Office into the inbox of our own Executive Director Julie Adams (hence the name of this column). As you might imagine these requests vary by topic, and the responses represent yet another resource to local senates. This column will share the questions and solutions offered by the President and the Executive Committee. Please send your thoughts or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Julie,Our faculty argue frequently about whether or not a teacher may grade a student based on attendance. What’s the real answer to this question?
Giving Fs to Absent Students
This question is posed quite often by faculty who are trying to encourage students to attend class and participate. Nothing sends a message faster to students who are lackadaisical about attending class than earning a failing grade for missing classtime. However, Title 5 is fairly clear on this topic in §55002.a.2.A. It says that “the grade [in the course] is based on demonstrated proficiency in the subject matter and the ability to demonstrate that proficiency...by means of essays... problem solving...” What this means for teachers is that they should give daily quizzes or assignments that students must complete in class in order to demonstrate proficiency with the subject matter. Many faculty award points for participation in class discussions, which a student can earn only if in attendance. Simply missing class cannot hurt a student unless he or she misses enough class time to warrant “excessive absences” in the class. Only after missing the defined amount of class time may a student be dropped from a class. Most districts have policies where an amount of time or a number of days of missed class constitute “excessive.” If your senate has not contributed to the board policy where these definitions exist, then you might want to agendize such a discussion.