Attendance Matters at Newport News Public Schools

Attendance Matters at NNPS

Every minute of a student's time at school is important. Students who are absent for even one day miss valuable instructional time and can easily fall behind in school. Too many absences - excused and unexcused - can keep students from succeeding academically.

To encourage regular student attendance, Newport News Public Schools is updating its attendance procedures effective Wednesday, November 9, the start of the second quarter of the school year.

The new procedures give parents/guardians useful information about submitting documentation for student absences, define excused and unexcused absences, and outline the steps that will be taken when student absences become excessive or chronic.

VIEW STUDENT ATTENDANCE PROCEDURES

Frequently Asked Questions about School Attendance

What shall I do if my student is going to be absent from school?

Parents/guardians are encouraged to notify the school of prearranged appointments as soon as the date of such appointments is known.

What do I do if my student is absent from school?

Parents/guardians must provide a written note for the student's absence within five days of the student's return to school. The note must include the student's name and NNPS ID number, the dates of the student's absence, the reason for the absence, and the parent/guardian's name, email and phone number. Parents/guardians may submit a written note to the school attendance clerk or utilize the form on the school's website to submit the reason for the absence along with official documentation by clicking on Report an Absence under Quicklinks.

What is considered "official documentation" for a student absence and when should I submit it?

If the student is absent for a doctor's appointment or dental appointment, official documentation may include a note or letter on the practitioner's letterhead. For court proceedings, the summons or subpoena may be submitted to the school for official documentation. For absences related to funerals or memorial services for immediate family members, an obituary or funeral program may be submitted as official documentation.

Parents/guardians must provide a written note for the student's absence within five days of the student's return to school (refer to What do I do if my student is absent from school?).

What happens after I have submitted information about my child's absence?

The attendance clerk will mark your child's attendance record with an "Excused" or "Unexcused" absence according to state law and Newport News Public Schools' policies and procedures. Any documentation will be maintained until the end of the school year for verification purposes.

Will parents/guardians receive notification of their student's absence?

For all absences, parents/guardians will be notified each day of the student's absence via automated phone call to the primary phone number associated with the parent/guardian.

What is considered an excused absence?

Under state law and Virginia Department of Education guidelines, a student shall be considered excused from school when the absence is due to:

  • Illness
  • Chronic/extended illness
  • Mental or behavioral health
  • Prearranged appointments
  • Family death or emergency
  • Religious observances
  • Civic engagement (any middle school or high school student may be granted one school day absence per school year to engage in a civic or political event)
  • 4-H participation (up to 5 school days per academic year)
  • Tribal Nation Gathering (students who are members of a state-or federally recognized tribal nation that is headquartered in Virginia shall be granted one excused absence per academic year to attend such nation's pow wow)
  • Exclusions/suspensions
  • Exceptional circumstances (no more than 5 days may be approved by the principal for exceptional circumstances during a school year)

What is considered an unexcused absence?

Unexcused absences are absences that do not meet the criteria listed above. An unexcused absence may be an unverified absence (for example, when a student "skips" school) or an absence that is not supported with proper parent notification. Out-of-school suspensions are also documented as unexcused absences.

When is my student eligible to make up assignments or tests?

Teachers will assign a failing grade for any work or test missed due to an absence that resulted from class cutting or truancy. Students who receive out-of-school suspensions may receive access to assignments without academic penalty.

Make-up work is encouraged so that students will profit from future instruction.  In middle and high school, it is the student's responsibility to ask the teacher for the make-up work. Work (including tests) missed due to an absence may be made up and credit given for such work. Upon the student's return to school, he/she must make up the work within five school days. Additional time may be granted by the teacher due to extenuating circumstances.

When students cut class or cut school, teachers will assign a failing grade for any work or test missed due to an absence that resulted from class cutting or truancy.

Is a family trip considered an excused absence?

Newport News Public Schools does not support the practice of taking trips/vacations on school days; absences due to family trips are unexcused.

What happens when a student accrues numerous unexcused absences?

If a student accrues unexcused absences, the principal or designee will follow the process below.

Elementary, Middle School & High School Students

5
Unexcused Absences
  • The school principal, a designee, or attendance officer will make a reasonable effort to ensure direct contact with parent/guardian via phone and email.
  • A letter will be sent to the parent/guardian and an effort will be made to verify the unexcused absence regarding the need and state law requirement to develop a plan to resolve the student's non-attendance.
  • The principal or other school staff member will schedule a meeting to complete an attendance monitoring plan, which will be documented as an intervention with the student support team.
6
Unexcused Absences
  • The school principal or designee or the attendance officer shall schedule a face-to-face attendance conference, or an interaction that is conducted through the use of communication technology, within 10 school days from the date of the student's sixth unexcused absence for the school year. The attendance conference must be held within 15 school days from the date of the sixth unexcused absence. The conference shall include the parent, student, and school personnel (which may be a representative or representatives from the student support team) and may include community service providers.
7
Unexcused Absences
  • The school principal or designee shall notify the attendance officer or division superintendent of the student's seventh unexcused absence for the school year. The division superintendent or designee shall contact the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court intake to file a complaint alleging the student is a child in need of supervision (CHINS) or to institute proceedings against the parent. In addition to documentation of compliance with the notice provisions of § 22.1-258 of the Code of Virginia, all records of intervention regarding the student's unexcused absences, such as copies of the conference meeting notes, attendance plan, and supports shall be presented to the intake worker.
  • Schools will provide interventions and alternative educational options for a student who fails to make academic progress as a result of attendance problems.

Middle and High School Students Only

9
Unexcused Absences
  • The parent/guardian and student will be notified in writing of a semester grade not exceeding a 59, should the student reach 9 unexcused absences in a class for a given semester. Notification will include a process for the parent/guardian to request an exemption of one or more unexcused absences. The request for exemption must be filed within 10 days to the principal after the conclusion of the semester. Documentation must accompany the request in order to be considered.

What is considered chronic absenteeism?

Chronic absenteeism is determined by the combined total of unexcused and excused absences that a student may have over the course of the school year. Students reach the threshold for being chronically absent when they meet or exceed 10 percent of the days in which the student is enrolled for the entire school year.

Because students enroll in NNPS at varying times throughout the school year, the calculation of chronic absenteeism may differ based on the remaining number of school days. The table below provides a summary of how chronic absenteeism is determined based on student's enrollment date.

Examples of Two-Thirds and Three-Fourths Threshold
For Excessive Absences and Chronic Absenteeism Procedures

Student Enrollment Date School Days (#) Chronic Absenteeism Threshold
10% Maximum Absences Two-Thirds
(Communication Initiated)
Three-Fourths
(Intervention/Monitoring)
Aug 29th 176 18 12 14
Oct 1st 151 15 10 12
Dec 1st 113 11 6 8
Jan 31st 87 N/A (<50% of Enrollment)

Elementary School Excessive Absences and Chronic Absenteeism Procedures

  • When a student has reached two-thirds of the allowable days prior to being determined as chronically absent for the full school year, the parent/guardian will be notified in writing of the number of absences and provided further guidance to avoid future absences.
  • The principal or designee will schedule a meeting with the parent within 10 days once the student has met the three-fourths allowable days prior to being determined as chronically absent for the full school year. A student support team meeting will be held by the principal or designee to identify and address any barriers to improved attendance. A Plan for Attendance Improvement will be completed and signed during the student support team meeting. The student will be monitored weekly by the attendance clerk.
  • The principal will convene a meeting with the student's teacher, parent, and school counselor up to 30 days prior to the end of the academic year once the student has met or exceeded the threshold for chronic absenteeism. At the conclusion of the meeting, the parent will be notified in writing whether the student will be promoted, retained, or required to attend summer school.

Middle and High School Excessive Absences and Chronic Absenteeism Procedures

  • When a student has reached two-thirds of the allowable days prior to being determined chronically absent for the full school year (which is defined as 10 percent of the days in which the student is enrolled for the entire school year), the parent/guardian will be notified in writing of the number of absences and provided further guidance to avoid future absences.
  • The principal or designee will schedule a meeting with the parent within 10 days once the student has met the three-fourths allowable days prior to being determined as chronically absent for the full school year. A student support team meeting will be held by the principal or designee to include any of the following staff: school counselor, school social worker, teacher, parent and student. A Plan for Attendance Improvement will be completed and signed during the student support team meeting. The student will be monitored weekly by the attendance clerk.
  • The principal or designee will review the attendance record of all students who have met or exceeded the threshold for chronic absenteeism to determine whether the student will retain all privileges of a student in good standing. The building principal may determine which (if any) student privileges are removed or suspended.

How do I request a Waiver of Retention or Grade Reduction?

A parent/guardian may request a waiver of the attendance sanction, retention or grade reduction. The Newport News Public Schools Attendance Waiver Request form will be available at each school. The waiver form must be completed and submitted to the principal prior to the close of a school year for students recommended for retention or remediation. For students enrolled in a credit bearing class at the middle or high school, the parent/guardian may submit a waiver request to the principal at the close of the semester, but no later than 10 days after the close of a semester.

Can parents/guardians appeal the waiver decision?

A parent/guardian may appeal the decision of the principal by submitting the appeal to the NNPS School Leadership department within 3 days of the receipt of the principal's decision.

Students in grades 8-12 who accrue excessive absences may lose privileges related to attendance at special school events such as school dances or prom, and may lose school parking privileges and off campus passes.

Please view these tips to build the habit of good attendance.

Visit Attendance Works for tips and advice to build the habit of good attendance.

Preschool and Elementary School

Good attendance in preschool and elementary school helps build the foundation for reading and math skills. Help your child be present and succeed in school. Build the habit of good attendance early.

Did you know?

  • Starting in kindergarten, too many absences can cause children to fall behind in school.
  • Missing 10 percent (or about 18 days) can make it harder to learn to read.
  • Students can still fall behind if they miss just a day or two days every few weeks.
  • Being late to school may lead to poor attendance.
  • Absences can affect the whole classroom if the teacher has to slow down learning to help children catch up.

Attending school regularly helps children feel better about school-and themselves. Start building this habit in preschool so they learn right away that going to school on time, every day is important. Good attendance will help children do well in high school, college, and at work.

What can you do to help?

  • Set a regular bed time and morning routine.
  • Lay out clothes and pack backpacks the night before.
  • Don't let your child stay home unless he/she is truly sick.
  • If your child seems anxious about going to school, talk to teachers, school counselors, or other parents for advice on how to make him/her feel comfortable and excited about learning.
  • Develop back-up plans for getting to school if something comes up. Call on a family member, a neighbor, or another parent.

Middle School and High School

Students who miss 10 or more days each school year are more likely to struggle in their school work placing them further behind their classmates. Middle and high school students with great attendance are better prepared academically and are more likely to earn a diploma.

Make sure your child is present and successful in school. Help keep him/her on the track for graduation.

Did you know?

  • Students should miss no more than 9 days of school each year to stay engaged, successful and on track to graduation.
  • By 6th grade, absenteeism is one of three signs that a student may drop out of high school.
  • By 9th grade, regular and high attendance is a better predictor of graduation rates than 8th grade test scores.
  • Missing 10 percent, or about 18 days, of the school year can drastically affect a student's academic success.
  • Students can be chronically absent even if they only miss a day or two every few weeks.
  • Attendance is an important life skill that will help your child graduate from college and keep a job.

What can you do to help?

  • Talk about the importance of showing up to school every day, make that the expectation.
  • Help your child maintain daily routines, such as finishing homework and getting a good night's sleep.
  • Check on your child's attendance to be sure absences are not piling up.
  • Don't let your child stay home unless truly sick.
  • Stay on top of academic progress and seek help from teachers if necessary.
  • Stay on top of your child's social contacts. Peer pressure can lead to skipping school, while students without many friends can feel isolated.
  • Encourage meaningful after-school activities, including sports and clubs.

Let's make sure all students are HERE. Every Minute. Every Class. Every Day.