- Associated Press - Friday, August 28, 2015

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - The minute the bell buzzes to signal the end of the period, the halls of Jefferson High School fill with students. In only five minutes, the press of teenagers vanish into their next classrooms. The hallways are nearly empty.

This is a seismic shift.

Last year, straggling students would line the halls at the start of each period, arriving late to their next class, students and staff say. In a school of 2,024 students, teachers would record an average of 500 tardies per day. As of last Thursday, students were late to class an average of 120 times per day, less than a quarter of the average last year, according to assistant principal J. Scott Leverenz.

The change was catalyzed by a new method for tracking late students and a stricter enforcement policy.

Instead of relying on teachers to report student tardiness, Jefferson is using a card reader-based system called Hero. The system cost the school $6,250 to install, plus an annual subscription fee of $5.50 per student, which totals $11,132 based on current enrollment.

When the bell rings at the start of the period, teachers close the doors to their classrooms. Students who aren’t in class must have their student IDs scanned by a school staffer stationed in the hall. They receive receipts, which their teachers sign when they enter class late.

“Last year, like they said you can’t be tardy, but my teachers, they never cared. People would show up like five minutes late and they wouldn’t say anything or get in trouble, so people would continue to keep coming to the classes late,” said sophomore Baylee Foltz. “If I wanted to finish my conversation in the hallway, I could without getting in trouble.”

Although she took advantage of lax enforcement last year, Foltz is glad of the change. There’s less disruption in class and teachers don’t spend time repeating instructions for students who arrive late.

Jefferson also dramatically reduced the number of tardies allowed by school policy. In 2014-2015, tardiness was tracked on a class-by-class basis. Punishments were progressive, from warnings to expulsion if a student was tardy to a class nine or more times. A student enrolled in eight classes could be tardy as many as 64 times before facing expulsion.

Under the new policy, tardiness is tracked on an overall basis. Students face the same progressive discipline, but the threshold for punishment is much lower. If a student is late 14 or more times, that student will be suspended pending expulsion.

For teachers, one of the best parts of the new system is that they are no longer responsible for tracking tardiness or punishing students for it. When students were late under the old system, teachers would have to stop class to document when they arrived. If students were repeatedly tardy, teachers had to call their parents to notify them of the problem.

“Now it’s just - bell rings, I shut the door and I get my students going. I don’t have any disruptions, and it goes very smoothly,” said Matt Bechler, a teacher in the business department. “I love it.”

The software tracks student violations and automatically lists a punishment on each student’s receipt based on the number of times that student has been tardy. Administrators make sure students fulfill punishments and contact parents.

Another reason why Jefferson is focusing on tardiness is because arriving on time is a job skill, said Leverenz. When employers call Leverenz for a reference, the first thing they talk about is tardiness and attendance, he said.

“(We’re) just saying how important it is to show up and be on time to class and work and be prepared,” he said. “It’s a life job skill.”

___

Source: http://on.jconline.com/1PARcbG

___

Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide