Lates and absences in perspectiveDoug Lovett
Sir, don’t mark me late!
Ma’am, don’t mark me absent!
I decided to look at some numbers for this cycle, since students are now allowed to go up to 15% absences before being dismissed. These numbers will vary depending on the cycle, level, program, and number of ‘lessons’ per week, but based on a 24 ‘lesson’ week in English Level 4, in this particular cycle, here are some numbers to put the new attendance policy into perspective:
- 1 late = 0.2% absences on their attendance. That means students can be late 75 times in a cycle before reaching 15% absences (assuming they are never absent).
- Being late every single morning for the entire cycle would only put them at about 6% absences (assuming they have no other lates or absences)
- 1 absence = 0.6% – so they can be absent for 25 lessons before being dismissed (assuming they are never late).
- That means in a 24 ‘lesson’ per week cycle, they can miss an entire week without being kicked out (assuming they are never late or absent any other time).
Whether or not you want to explicitly tell students this is another matter. There are many factors that cause those numbers to change, so it’s not good for students to have it in their heads exactly how much time they can miss, only to be dismissed when they find out that for their particular program, it’s actually less. And we don’t want students ‘planning’ out their absences anyway! They might actually get sick in week 5 and “run out of absences”. Or they might skip more classes because, “well, hey, I’ve got a whole week to worth with!”
On the other hand, it really does seem that the students have considerable leeway here, and these numbers really show that:
“Sir don’t mark me late…because if you do, I can only be late 74 more times in this cycle!”
“Sir please don’t mark me absent… because if you do, I can only be absent 24 more times!”
To put this in perspective, can you imagine working for a company and being absent 15% of your working days? In a 48-week job (assuming 4 weeks of vacation and a generous 12 days of national holidays):
- You could be absent for 34 working days a year, in addition to your regular holidays.
- That means you could stay home from work for almost 7 weeks in addition to your holidays.
- If you include national holidays, you could work a 4-day week almost every week of the year (not quite, but almost – those 3 weeks or so when you actually have to work a full 5 days might seem very, very long).
Interestingly, we took students to a speech by Dr. Ahmed Al Shoaibi, about the children’s books he writes. He gave a fantastic speech about his books, and then on the side, he mentioned that he was in charge of creating the HCT attendance policy. He briefly mentioned that he was tired of hearing people complain about this attendance policy on social media and said:
It’s not that hard – just come to class!