At East, one of the growing problems for students, as well as faculty, is attendance. Whether it’s merely for regular classes or major school-wide activities like Springfest, student turnout is a mounting issue the administration started forming measures to combat at the beginning of the year.
In previous school years, teachers at East were only required to take attendance during second and sixth periods, which needed to be turned in by 4:00 P.M. every day. These were the only official attendance records for the entire day, which proved to be a dilemma for the school’s accountability of students.
“Any time you have seven periods a day, open campus policy for seniors, and kids who go to another school for classes, those factors create nightmares for attendance,” Principal Eileen Tully said. “We’re completely responsible for [students] every single period. This isn’t about bad student behavior, but the fact is that if kids aren’t in class, they can’t pass.”
Then, at the beginning of the year, the administration encountered a problem. According to a recent law passed by NC state legislation, teachers are required to fill out attendance as often as possible. East administrators decided to require teachers to take attendance every period and put it into NC Wise, the state educational records system, by the end of each class.
The administration initiated the new system to comply with NC laws regarding attendance, but some faculty members do not enjoy it. According to some teachers who prefer to remain anonymous, taking attendance every period takes away from as many as five to ten minutes of class because the NC Wise system becomes slower when every teacher in the school tries to record the students who attended their classes.
“The real problem is with our technology and how to get it to a level of stabilization where NC Wise can be pulled up and stay up for the whole day,” Tully said.
Mary Neill, the head of the math department at East, spoke openly about how the new system affects classes.
“Sometimes you might have a really busy lesson from bell to bell, so it’s hard to get to your computer,” Neill said. “That’s what teachers are worried about.”
This is not the case for all teachers at East. John Wilson, a mathematics teacher at East, said that the change was not that difficult for him.
“I always took attendance every period, [and] I just put it in at the end of the day,” Wilson said. “I thought it was going to be a big deal, but so far it hasn’t been.”
Wilson went on to say that even though it might take a few minutes, there’s always some time when he can fill out the attendance.
“Normally in every period I can find a moment or two when students are doing something and I can log in [to NC Wise] and do it,” Wilson said. “My only big issue has been when a student comes in late, then I have to remember to go back in to uncheck them and resave, so that they can be marked as present.”
Unlike some of the other staff members, Wilson finds the system to be helpful to not only teachers, but the administration as well.
“This is making all teachers accountable,” Wilson said. “And it’s easier for assistant principals to track students.”
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