Attendance is critical for final assessments

Principal’s Page
By Jeff Reaburn
//www.shdhs.ca

Last Thursday I attended the school production of Our Town by Thornton Wilder, and I came away from the play thoroughly impressed. It was a truly engaging and entertaining production, and I would like to congratulate and commend the director, Ms. Beth Jantzi, and the entire cast and crew of the show. The performances, which took place over four evenings, were the culmination of months of hard work and preparation by the actors and by everyone else who worked offstage and behind the scenes to make this event happen. A large number of staff, students, and parent volunteers contributed their time and energy to make the shows a resounding success, and I would like to thank everyone who contributed in any way to this production.
Now that we have hit mid-May, we really are into the home stretch of the school year. That means that all kinds of final assessments will soon be underway in classrooms and it is important that students give these assessments the energy and attention needed to ensure success. Under the provincial assessment and evaluation policy, each course must have a final assessment worth 30 per cent of the final grade for the course. In a few cases, this 30 per cent will be assigned to a final exam at the end of the year. In most cases, however, it will be split into two or three assessment activities that will take place over the next few weeks. For example, there may be a final exam worth 20 per cent of the year’s mark, and a major project worth 10 per cent. Or there could be three assessment tasks, each worth 10 per cent.
By now, teachers will have advised their students how the final assessment mark will be determined, and it is important that students be ready to complete these assessment tasks and meet the deadlines that are assigned. Unlike other summative assessments, students may be assigned a zero, rather than an incomplete, for failing to complete a final assessment task. Unfortunately, we do have a few students who don’t seem to realize the importance of the final assessment and seem willing to sacrifice this portion of their mark. This can, of course, jeopardize a passing grade and could lead to students failing to achieve credits.
Parents can play a crucial role in assisting us in this matter, by ensuring that students take these assessments seriously and by encouraging them to give the tasks their best effort. We encourage parents to find out when these assessments are and to make sure students are present for in-class tasks and are working diligently on the take-home projects. We will a listing of in-class exams and the final exam schedule at www.shdhs.ca later this month.
May is also one of the busiest months of the year for school activities, and we have students participating in a number of sports – soccer, rugby, track and field – as well as other activities, field trips, etc. that may cause students to miss classes at times in the next few weeks. Our expectation is that students notify teachers in advance if they will miss a test, presentation, or some other in-class assessment task because of an activity. Similarly, if they know they are going to be away from school on the day that something is due, we expect them to hand it in earlier unless they have made alternate arrangements with the teacher. These same expectations apply for absences for medical or dental appointments. If a student misses school due to illness or some other unplanned reason, our expectation is that the student will see the teacher immediately upon his/her return to school to make arrangements for the missed class.
Again, parents can be of tremendous assistance by ensuring that their kids attend school regularly and are aware of the dates and deadlines for their tests and assignments. If parents are having trouble getting this information, which I understand happens on occasion, teachers can be reached by email or by phone. There is a link to staff email addresses on our web-site, but I would ask that parents use this as a last resort, as I wouldn’t want our teachers inundated by email requests of this nature.
Finally, please don’t excuse your kids from attendance unless they are legitimately ill or have something that must be attended to during school time. It is very frustrating when parents excuse their kids to work on school projects or study for tests, to get haircuts, to go camping or shopping, etc. Such absences are not recognized as legitimate school absences in The Education Act, and we consider them to be truancies. Being excused by a parent for such reasons gives students the wrong message about the importance of school and the value of schoolwork. Parental support and assistance in this matter would be greatly appreciated. If you are a parent and have questions or concerns about this, please give me a call.