As time passes and we move further away from the pandemic and the disrupted 2020 school year, attendance rates in Indiana schools are plummeting. To help students recover from the academic setbacks of the past year, Indiana schools are working together to improve attendance rates all across the state. As part of this effort, Indiana has introduced a new regulation that requires high schools to maintain a “persistent attendee rate” of 94% or higher.

One school working on student’s absences and attendance is Penn High School. At the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year, students at Penn High School were given a new task during their advisory 3rd-hour blocks. Their teacher provided them with a spreadsheet and instructed them to collect their attendance data from Skyward and enter it into the spreadsheet.

Dr Galiher, principal of Penn High School specifies that,

“We want to avoid exessive absences, and that would be more than 10% of the school year, so out of 180 days, a student would miss 4-18 days, and that would be considered excessive.”

It has been one semester since Penn started their new attendance checks, and they have officially risen 7% in attendance records compared to last year.

This YearTotal attendeesLast YearTotal attendees
Updated Persistent Attendance Data: Final Semester 1

This raises the question, how does it work? This is the first attendance check that directly involves the students and their teachers. This is all a part of Indiana’s Student-Centered Accountability, which focuses on bettering the performance of schools around Indiana, including test scores, literacy rates, and student attendance.

Ashley Mead, a member of the Penn Student Kingsmen Court, was personally surprised to see such a change in her last year of high school. As a student for four years, she has seen many students be late to school and class. When asked if she has seen a problem in this school, she stated,

“It’s not that I don’t see a trend in people not going to school, Penn can have a really bad problem with skipping, not coming to class, and being tardy, and that’s what we should focus on.”

Now that we know that these new attendance checks work, do you think we should keep it, or try a new method?