Does tardiness really matter?

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Does tardiness really matter?

Graphic by Michelle Yamamoto

Graphic by Michelle Yamamoto

Graphic by Michelle Yamamoto

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 During the school day, students are frequently reminded to get to class before the tardy bell, either by campus security or teacher. Tardy Lincoln students are directed to room 104 for a blue slip upon arrival; however, clarity about the policy surrounding tardiness is much harder to come by.

The PPS attendance/truancy policies define tardy as arriving within the first quarter of class – otherwise, a student is marked as ‘late after tardy’ if they arrive, or absent if they don’t. However, this posted policy does not outline the consequences of unexcused tardiness, or how many it would take to be penalized. Teachers often send students to room 104 when they arrive late, but these slips don’t excuse tardiness. Instead, they inform teachers what time students arrive, to appropriately record attendance.

Lincoln student success coach Michelle Hardaway says “there is not a whole lot of penalizing students, more natural consequences for not going to class.” “Often if students are continually late, teachers will hopefully talk to the student first and then contact home,” she explains.

“Time period is the policy, classroom specifics differ,” Hardaway elaborates. She says “there are no district-wide consequences for tardies, teachers could report it to administrators, it depends why a student is late.” Hardaway details these reasons: “Vaping in the bathroom would be a behavior issue under discipline. For home issues, we want to provide support instead, which is [her] job.”

Junior Ella Douthit has weighed in with her view on tardiness. 

“The only consequence I’ve heard is just getting marked on your transcript,” she explains, “but one thing in one of my three tardies was a detention in one of my IB classes; but, I’m not even sure Lincoln has detention.” Lincoln doesn’t.

Studies show that frequent absences can be detrimental to academic performances. In an email response, UC Santa Barbara researcher Michael Gottfried explains “when students are tardy, they have lower achievement scores. When students are tardy they are also hurting their classmates’ engagement in school.” 

Lincoln teachers vary in their strictness regarding tardiness. 

Biology teacher Margaret Raczek enforces a tardiness policy, and as a result, most of her students arrive on time. To Raczek, the importance of arriving on time is linked to assignments students must complete at the beginning of class. 

“This allows me to survey my classes on how an activity went or to get a student’s opinion on an issue [they] are studying” she explains. “I see this policy as a benefit to the student as it engages them immediately in the class.” 

Additionally, Raczek says “this gives [her] a chance to take attendance and not take additional class time to do this mandatory task” and “assess understanding of concepts on a daily basis and help students if there is a misconception.” She explains that “[she] does enforce a tardiness policy and [she] thinks that is why [she] generally [does] not have a problem with tardiness in [her] classes.” 

Raczek also informs “[she] would like to see an additional five-minute warning bell in the afternoon break,” as “this is the only time in the day when students are not signaled that they have five minutes to get to class on time.” 

English teacher Mark Halpern rarely thinks about tardy students. 

“I’m just glad they’re in class,” he says. “I think classes should be engaging, then kids would come.” 

Halpern believes tardy students are penalizing themselves.

“I never wanted to be a policeman,” he emphasizes. He is glad students come, he wants them to come, and says if they come late, they’re late. 

Halpern also questioned the practice of having to get signed “late slips” from room 104.

“Why would you take someone that’s late and make them later? It seems to me to be absurd,” he says. “It’s a foolish consistency to follow a rule like that.”