Districts often wonder whether a student who falls below 90% attendance needs to make up the lost seat time to be granted credit or a final grade (Spoiler alert: they don’t). We’d like to offer some clarification on this subject, addressed in FEC(LOCAL).
Attendance for Credit
State law requires that students attend class 90% of the days the class is offered to receive credit or a final grade. Unless otherwise provided by law, all absences — both excused and unexcused — are included in this calculation.
There is a misconception that a student who does not meet this attendance requirement must make up lost seat time. However, state law only requires that the student meet the instructional requirements of the class or subject.
A student who is in attendance for at least 75% but less than 90% of the days a class is offered may be given credit or a final grade by completing a plan approved by the school’s principal that provides for the student to meet the instructional requirements of the class. Most districts’ policies allow the principal to approve a plan if the student’s attendance does not fall below 75%.
Seat Time Not Required
While a student may benefit from Saturday school or tutoring outside of regular school hours, principals and attendance committees are not required to include these components in a student’s plan. A plan might require a student to maintain attendance standards for the rest of the semester, particularly if the student’s grades show mastery of the class materials.
If a student’s grades do not show mastery, plans may require the student to complete additional assignments, attend tutorial sessions, complete other instructional programs, or take an exam to earn credit.
Other Important Factors
Districts should be aware of other aspects of this policy that can impact attendance for credit.
A documented excused absence resulting from a serious or life-threatening illness or related treatment is not included in the calculation of attendance for credit or final grade.
An attendance committee may give class credit or a final grade to a student because of extenuating circumstances within guidelines set by the board in FEC(LOCAL). Most districts have provisions that allow the attendance committee or principal to consider circumstances such as
- Student mastery of essential knowledge and skills
- Student completion of makeup work
- Student and parent control over the reasons for absences
- Information provided by the student or parent regarding absences
Districts may determine the deadline to submit a petition for credit or a final grade. When setting the deadline, consider the following:
- Does your district issue report cards prior to the deadline to ensure parents are aware of the issue?
- Will winter break or summer vacation make it difficult to gather members of your attendance committee after the deadline?
Review your district’s FEC(LOCAL) and contact your Policy Service consultant if it needs revisions to match your district practices.