Grades not attendance should determine if seniors take finals

By: Emma Schardt

Photo by: Emma Schardt

The backup in the Groves parking lot creates an issue for students to be on time for class.


“Grades are what will get you into college.” “You need this grade to pass.” “My mom will kill me if I don’t get an A.”

These are the thoughts that swirl through my head and that of many students.

All of high school has revolved around grades. Every finals week is a stress tornado for both students and teachers, as kids want to figure out what grades they need to pass the class, and teachers are harassed with questions and requests for extra credit.

However, come third-trimester senior year it all changes. College acceptances are out, most kids know where they are going to college, and the administration is worried seniors won’t show up to school.

The priority shifts drastically for 3rd term seniors to their attendance rather than their grades. While grades are still a requirement, they are hidden in the shadow of the new attendance requirement of no more than six tardies, and no more than eight absences (whether excused or not). These policies for attendance also determine if seniors have to take a final in June or if their year can end on May 27 as planned.

This attendance policy looms over seniors’ heads, creating anxiety during a time that should be about bonding with the staff we will miss and contemplating our futures. Instead. there is a rush to get to school in the mornings or after lunch to avoid even a tardy. I’ve been caught in the traffic that piles up on West 13 Mile on the way to school, especially during the week of standardized testing. Upperclassmen are able to come to school later on these days however, the green arrow is shut off on the traffic light at these times, creating a backup on W 13 Mile. I was so anxious about being late to school that I went to the lengths to send my teacher a Remind text notifying him that I will be late since the traffic was so backed up. I was side by side with the football field for what felt like 25 minutes in stand-still traffic. I could feel the anxiety build inside me as I thought about the “tardy” that might show up on my attendance.

Senioritis is a real thing: snoozing every alarm, putting minimal effort into schoolwork as well as homework, pushing the limit of absences, and being checked out in every class. However, it is known that colleges require a final transcript. Students should know that they can’t fail their classes in the third trimester or colleges can retract their acceptances. I think to myself, why should it matter how often I am in class if I have a passing grade in my classes? While I understand that there are cases when attendance and grades are in direct correlation, this isn’t always the case, and I don't think that this should be the driving factor behind the policy. Having colleges request a final high school transcript is a more powerful incentive than attendance for seniors to finish their third trimester with higher grades.

Assistant principal Othamian Peterson suggested that students who prefer grades over attendance in determining if they need to take finals should think out a formal proposal to discuss with the administration.

“If students are really serious about it, they can present a proposal to the Groves administration. If our rising seniors, our current junior class, are interested in such a change they should set an appointment to meet with us. Like anything else, tell us what it is and lay out the rationale. We would probably run it through our teacher's committee, the Faculty Action Committee, that’s a representative body for teachers, just to see what they think and our counselors. And then go from there,” Peterson said.

With such a generous invitation from Peterson, it is crucial that the rising senior class, current juniors, use their voices and express their desire for this change in the administration.

Although my senior class won’t be able to experience the reduced stress of not having to worry about attendance, I wish for all students in the upcoming years to have a more relaxed end to their senior year.

While there is a stereotype that “seniors have zero worries once the college acceptances roll in”, I can assure you that this is not the case. I would even say that my third trimester of senior year has been more stressful than the two earlier ones. Seniors have to worry about college housing, taking their last set of AP tests, maintaining high grades while sustaining low absences, and finishing all last-minute assignments teachers are deciding to burden us with just a few weeks before the end of school. I am loaded with assignments, projects, and studying for AP tests while dealing with the unpredictable schedule of the girls' tennis season.

The hall monitors are especially adamant about sending kids to class with a neon pink tardy slip, even when kids are walking in simply two minutes late. Many teachers and other staff members are very strict when it comes to being tardy, creating greater fear for seniors that they will have to return to take a final.

Powerschool notifies students of their tardies by indicating a Tardy (over 10 minutes) which becomes a TA: tardy absent. I’ve overheard conversations of fellow classmates saying that they have been marked tardy-absent, even though they walked into class only 3-4 minutes late. They were complaining that they got a Powerschool notification labeling them as more than ten minutes late when they were really less than five minutes late. This is a concern for many students since seniors can only have six tardies and eight absences.

Teachers should be lenient with students coming to first hour and returning after lunch. While many would argue that going out to lunch is a privilege and it is our responsibility to make it back on time, there is always the chance that all the cards are laid against us. Often enough there’s traffic getting back to school, or the food place that we chose took an unexpectedly long time. I know it’s easy to argue that students should then leave without their food and focus on being on time, but if the food is already paid for, that is wasted money and an empty stomach. There is also the risk of students speeding to get back to class, which could lead to legal consequences and car accidents.

We should be enjoying our last few months of school. After twelve years of being in school, sitting at a desk for seven hours every day, there should be a time where we relax and enjoy high school. Peterson agrees and urges students to cherish their childhood years, claiming that adult life isn’t as fun as it is described to be.

“I always tell my own kids to just enjoy it. When you're my age, you're paying bills for a living. It's not that fun,” Peterson said.

Senior year is painted out to be the best year of high school when students should be enjoying their teenage lives. However, all these attendances and tardy requirements create more stress than expected. I can’t comprehend the rationale behind monitoring my attendance as long as my grades are high. If my grades are at a passing grade or higher, there shouldn’t be a reason my attendance is being evaluated.

Rise, class of 2023 to address this situation with the administration and make a change in the attendance policy.


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