At Pierce College, there isn’t a uniformed rule for attendance for the widespread of classes. There isn’t a rule such as the Truancy (Becca Bill) and Compulsory Attendance policy, which states that children ages 8-17 in Washington state must attend either public, private or homeschool education. If there’s unexcused absences, repercussions will follow.
At Pierce, students can come to their classes on campus whenever they please, yet some instructors have policies for attendance. According to the parent access to records for Running Start policy on the Pierce College website, “attendance policies are set by each instructor and therefore must be adhered to so as not to negatively impact student grades.”
Besides this, there is another policy regarding attendance set by instructors: the Administrative Withdrawal policy. In 2012, the Council for Learning and Student Success, now called the Learning Council, approved a new policy that went into effect summer quarter of 2012.
Page 16 of the Pierce College catalog under administrative withdrawal Non-Attendance states:
“Pierce College reserves the right to administratively withdraw registered students who fail to attend initial class sessions and fail to make arrangements for excused absences through the instructor.”
According to this, students must make prior arrangements and contact the professor if they are to miss the first days.
“We allow the opportunity because life happens,” Agnes Steward, dean of student success, said.
If students don’t make contact, the instructor can report them for not attending and the student can be dropped if they don’t show the first five days of class (which is also the period of full refund for the class).
Just as the individual instructor can choose whether or not to have attendance policies, instructors can decide for themselves to implement the administrative withdrawal policy.
Prior to the policy, Steward says that students who kept missing class would find out at the end of the quarter that their grade was a 0.0, which is one of the reasons why the policy was put into place.
Another reason for the creation of the policy is because of the waitlists. For students not attending and once instructors withdraw them, it might lead to an opening.
“Some (faculty) use it and say ‘well, if the first person on the list comes, I will add you’ if somebody drops. So, that is a benefit there, but it’s still no guarantee,” Steward said.
According to Steward, the administrative withdrawal policy is designed to emphasize the importance of being in class, since a student may miss out on valuable learning if they aren’t present. It holds the student responsible.
As far as attendance goes, various Pierce College students have views on the policies for their own classes. Student Jasmine Reed says attendance policies should be based on the excuse.
“If they are just not coming for no apparent reason, then they should be punished,” Reed said. “But if they have a problem – like most college students have kids, or family, and if there is personal thing – that’s a totally different story.”
For student Christopher Frank, he feels that professors should allow students to miss up to 7-10 classes.
“At the start of the quarter, I was sick for two days so I automatically used up my two absences,” Frank said.
Frank says that for his political science class, students can miss two to three days while for his math class, students can miss four days, and then grades become affected.
“I like the math policy better because it allows four days versus two or three because sometimes you can’t help being absent if you’re sick,” Frank said.
Whether there will ever be a policy for, such as the Truancy (Becca Bill) and Compulsory Attendance policy, it’s not a concern for Pierce. It’s a college with more freedom for students to do as they please and each professor reserves the right to their own classroom policies.
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