MONROE COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI)- In Mrs. Dobbs 5th Grade classroom, all hands are accounted for during her geography lesson on the 7 continents. But being a teacher for more than 30 years, she knows she’ll eventually see an empty desk.
“We cover so much material in one day there’s no way we can just write down assignments missed and that child receive everything that they need from the day missed,” said Dobbs.
Dobbs says keeping up with who’s absent means more than just scribbling it down on a sheet of paper.
“We have to stop what we’re doing, go over to the computer and put the children that are tardy or absent into the computer. Also, for every period, we have to jot down assignments missed by these students so that we can pass it on to the next teacher and at the end of the day we have a written record of everything that the child has missed during the day so yes it is very frustrating,” said Dobbs.
Frustrating not just for teachers, but also for school districts across the state. Mississippi measures average daily attendance in what’s known as the “63%” rule.
“The 63% rule says that in order for a student to be counted as present, they have to be in attendance 63% of the instructional day, not just the day itself. So you do not get to count breakfast or recess or study hall. Which makes it kind of hard to track because you literally can have a kindergartner who might’ve been present 63% of his instructional day but you also have a 1st grader who was not present 63% of the day and they checked out at the same time. So that makes it difficult as far as keeping track in our offices,” said Monroe County School Superintendent Scott Cantrell.
It also affects districts financially.
“Our MAEP funding is based off of average daily attendance. So if our average daily attendance decreases then obviously our MAEP funds for the following year decrease also,” said Cantrell.
Finances and paperwork aside, Dobbs knows perfect attendance ultimately affects her students.
“I can look back and see that the children that I’ve taught that have had perfect attendance or that were here majority of the time, it reflects in their grades. It’s important for them to be here everyday because there’s not one day in a school year that’s not important. Everyday is just as important,” said Dobbs.
School districts say they prefer if parents schedule appointments after school hours.