New Attendance Policy


It is our goal at Thornapple Kellogg High School to ensure that we are preparing our students for the world beyond high school. This is evidenced in our mission statement, which reads:

We, the staff of Thornapple Kellogg High School in cooperation with our students, parents and community, are committed to enable every child to achieve his or her potential. Within a secure, positive, learning environment students will:

  • Develop academic, technical, physical and employ-ability skills
  • Gain social, cultural, and ethical awareness
  • Master measurable established standards
  • Inspire one another to promote pride and excellence
  • Become lifelong learners

As part of our school improvement process we strive to focus our initiatives and strategies on our mission.

In reviewing our data, through the school improvement process and our Multi Tiered Systems of Support Team, we have identified attendance as an area that needs to be addressed. Research shows that attendance has a direct correlation to student success in high school and beyond. Students who are chronically absent are more likely to fail classes and drop out of high school.

It is essential for students to develop good work habits and employability skills while in high school to better prepare them for the working world. Regular attendance teaches self discipline and responsibility, which are characteristics of reliable and employable adults. Regular attendance allows students to take full advantage of opportunities provided in the classroom through participation in the educational process. It is our responsibility to work with our parents, students, and community to ensure that students are demonstrating these essential skills, which will benefit them as they further pursue their education and take advantage of opportunities to gain employment.

The data collected shows that Thornapple Kellogg High School has a significant amount of students that are considered chronically absent. Chronic absenteeism is defined by the U.S. Department of Education as missing 10 or more school days during the school year. The following data shows the increase that TKHS has had in this area over the past 5 years.

During the 2010-11school year 134 students were chronically absent

During the 2011-12 school year 177 students were chronically absent

During the 2012-13 school year 188 students were chronically absent

During the 2013-14 school year 192 students were chronically absent

During the 2014-15 school year 220 students were chronically absent

This is an average of 180 students per year, which equates to roughly 20% of our student population that are missing more than 10 days of school per year. This is significantly higher than most schools within the Kent ISD.

To address the attendance issue we have established a goal that 90% of our students will be present for 90% or more of instructional time. The data we collected demonstrates that we are far from that mark. The following data shows the percentage of students at each grade level who were present for 90% of instructional time. Please keep in mind that 90% of instruction time, based on 180 school days, equates to 162 school days. This means that the students who were not present for at least 90% of instructional time missed more than 18 school days. The following data represents the percentage of students that attended at least 162 school days (90% of instructional time) last year.

9th grade- 86% 11th grade- 75%

10th grade- 82% 12th grade 67%

Based on the data shared above we have looked at our current policy and have found it to be ineffective. We have researched attendance policies of other schools around Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, and Ottawa counties, sixteen schools in all. After researching these policies we realized that the attendance policy for TKHS was very laxed in comparison.

Our current policy states that a student may miss up to ten days per semester. Upon the tenth day the student's grade will be changed to a “G” grade, which means a student will earn credit for the class but the grade will not be calculated in the student’s GPA. Under this policy a student may appeal the absences by providing documentation of medical appointments, court appearances, etc.

Due to the compelling evidence that attendance correlates with school success, we are reducing the days students may be absent.

The new policy will be as follows:

Students will be allowed seven (7) absences per semester (excused and unexcused)

Students who accumulate between eight (8) and ten (10) absences may still earn a grade and graduation credit if:

  • The student demonstrated proficiency in the class (semester grade prior to the exam is 60% or greater)
  • The student passes the final exam at the end of the semester with a minimum of a 78%

Students who are accumulate between eight (8) and ten (10) absences may still earn graduation credit but the grade will not be calculated in the GPA and recorded as a “G” grade if:

  • The student demonstrated  proficiency in the class (semester grade prior to the exam is 60% or greater)
  • The student passes the final exam at the end of the semester with a minimum of a 60%.

Students who accumulate more than ten (10) absences in a semester will not receive credit and must retake the course.

Students who accumulate more than ten (10) absences in a semester will be placed on social probation and may not attend school functions or participate in school sponsored events such as prom and the senior commencement ceremony.

Attendance notice letters will be mailed to parents on the fifth (5th), seventh (7th), and tenth (10th) absence.


Truancy is the act of intentionally being absent from school without a legitimate reason. A student who is truant from class will receive discipline including, but not limited, the following examples: detention, suspension from extra­curricular activities (as a participant and/or spectator), permission to attend school dances, loss of credit, and/or police referral.

The following are examples of truancy:

  • Skipping class
  • Skipping an entire day
  • Leaving class early without permission of the teacher
  • Leaving class for an amount of time not approved by the teacher
  • Missing more than 5 minutes of class

Students will be reported to the Kent ISD Truancy Officer when they have received their eighth (8th) absence if the student has been out for unknown reasons.

Chronic Illness

Thornapple Kellogg High School understands that students may face chronic illnesses, which may cause the student to miss a significant amount of instructional time. Students who miss more than two (2) days due to a medical condition, illness, etc. must provide medical documentation to the attendance office to excuse the absences. The absence will be marked as medical (M) and will not be calculated toward the seven (7) allowable absences.

Family Trips/Vacations

Thornapple Kellogg High School recognizes the benefits of family trips and vacations, however, taking a student out of school during the school year can be damaging to the education of a student. Therefore, the following rules will determine the amount of time a student may miss for family trips and vacations at times other than those designated by the school calendar.

  • Students will be granted up to five (5) days for a family trip or vacation and will NOT count against the seven (7) days.
  • Students must complete the pre approval form. This form must be signed by each of the student’s teachers, the student, and the parent and be approved by the principal or assistant principal.
  • The form must be submitted to the attendance office at least one week prior to the absence. Failure to turn the form in on time will result in the absences being counted.

School Related Absences

Thornapple Kellogg High School recognizes the educational benefits of participating in extracurricular activities and visiting college campuses. Students that will be absent from school to participate in a school sponsored activity (field trip, athletic event, etc.) must fill out the pre arranged absence form and turn it into the office at least two (2) days prior to the absence. The form must be signed by each of the student’s teachers and parent(s) and be approved by the principal or assistant principal.

College Visits

Students may be excused for up to three (3) college visits. Students must follow the same procedure for a school related absence by filling out the prearranged absence form with signatures from each of the student’s teachers and parent(s). The form must be submitted at least two days prior to the absence and approved by the principal or assistant principal.

Makeup Work

All students must do make­up work to the satisfaction of each individual teacher for the time missed in school. Students will have two (2) days per absence to make up work assigned during their absence..  This only applies to absences that have been excused. For an absence to be considered excused a parent or gaurdian must contact the attendance office within 24 hours of the absence. Students who are suspended will be allowed the same number of days of the suspension to turn in all of the work missed during their suspension. Students will not receive makeup work and will not gain credit for assignments missed during an unexcused absence. Parents may arrange to pick up work from the Attendance Office or the student may pick up work directly from teacher after 2 days of absences. It will be the responsibility of the student to communicate with their teachers on any make up work.

Attendance Appeals

Students and parents have the right to appeal teaching and administrative decisions when they believe that such decisions are unjust or have not followed proper procedures.  When unusual circumstances exist concerning absences not covered by the above rules, parents could contact the assistant principal.The administration reserves the right to use discretion in all situations regarding the attendance policy and will make every attempt to see that the attendance policy is applied fairly and consistently for all students.  

The following will factor into the approval or disapproval of an attendance appeal:

  • Extenuating circumstances for absences
  • Previous attendance record
  • Occurrence of unexcused absences
  • Truancy
  • Documentation (doctor’s notes)

Students may appeal their absences by:

  • Completing the attendance appeal form
  • Attaching documentation (medical notes, court documents, etc.) to the appeal form
  • Submit the appeal form to the assistant principal no later than ten (10) school days, or fourteen (14) calendar days after the conclusion of a semester. Documentation is required for an appeal to be reviewed.
  • Appeals will be reviewed individually and on a case by case basis.
  • If a student’s appeal is denied he or she may appeal to the high school principal.

It is our hope that we can work together to ensure that our students are prepared for life beyond high school. It is important that our students understand how attendance affects their education progress, and how it will affect their ability to be successful in college and/or the work force. Thank you for your continued support of TKHS.


Tony Petersen