After five months of negotiations, the Buffalo Board of Education voted 5-4 last week to base 10 percent of students' report-card grades on attendance. Thus, kids with five or more unexcused absences will receive zeros, meaning the highest grade they can then receive in any subject is a 90. The policy, first proposed in May, allows for "excused" absences including illness, impassable roads, college visits, and required court appearances or incarceration--a major relief, no doubt, to juvenile delinquents with their sights set on the Ivy League. The real question is will this policy, set to be reviewed after a year, help increase Buffalo's lagging attendance rates (last year, over 80 percent of the city's students were absent six times or more), or will it merely lead to grade inflation for students capable of putting their behinds in seats? Plus, the grades of compulsive truants should already be suffering because of their absences. If they're not, maybe it's Buffalo's curriculum and not its attendance policy that needs tweaking.
"Attendance to make up 10 percent of grade," by Peter Simon, Buffalo News, October 12, 2006