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New! PHS Attendance Incentive

by | Jan 1, 2019

Dear PHS Parents,

As you may be aware, schools across Arizona and beyond deal with excessive student absenteeism. Dozens of students miss 10 or more days of classes each semester. This impacts student learning, places additional pressure on teachers to help students catch up, results in student loss of credit, and reduces graduation rates. Based on consultation with and positive feedback from our PHS leadership teams, site council, and faculty, PHS will implement the following attendance incentive program, beginning 2nd semester 2019:

Students who have 3 or fewer absences and NO unexcused absences, as well as 3 or fewer tardies in any specific class for a semester, AND who have a passing grade for the semester may have the option of being exempted from the final exam for that PHS-only class. (Dual enrollment classes and CTED classes have separate requirements, and cannot be included in this exemption.)

If you have questions about this, please see the Frequently Asked Questions, below.

Q: Is this type of incentive offered at other schools?
A: Yes, a number of schools nationwide offer this type of incentive for students to attend class more regularly, and have seen a culture shift toward students avoiding unnecessary absences.

Q: Why allow a student the option to skip a final exam as a reward for exemplary attendance?
A: The main reason is of course to reduce unnecessary absences at PHS. Students who attend nearly every class generally learn much better than those do not, and they establish habits for success in life. The option to be exempt from a final exam is a special incentive for those who show special commitment to attendance. Students who earn an exemption in a class may still have the option of taking the final exam to be calculated into their semester grade if they wish.

Q: Is there research data to show the impact that missing school has on students’ achievement?
A: Missing an average of only 2 days per month has a statistically significant negative effect on academic performance. Excused and unexcused absences have the same negative effect.

  • Employers cite poor attendance as one of the top reasons for dismissal from jobs, and excellent job attendance as one of the most desirable qualities in an employee.
  • Excessive absences in the spring are highly correlated with lower achievement on standardized tests.
  • By 6th grade, chronic absence becomes a leading indicator that a student will drop out of high school.
  • Half of students who miss 2 or more days in September will go on to miss nearly a month of the school year.
  • If a student is 10 minutes late to school each day, this adds up to missing more than 33 hours of class time each year.
  • A student with a 90% attendance average for kindergarten through 12th grade will miss well over a year of accumulated time in the classroom!

Q: So, is PHS encouraging students who are very ill or potentially contagious to come to school?
A: No. For most students, there are absolutely occasional days when it is necessary to miss school. A student could miss up to 6 days a year for illness or other reasons, and still qualify for this incentive. If students are very ill, and/or may have a contagious illness, they must stay home to recover before returning to school. However, we are asking for your support to greatly reduce avoidable absences. Some days students miss school because they “don’t feel like” coming to school, or because it’s more convenient for a family to schedule their vacation or appointments on school days. These optional absences not only hinder students’ academic performance, they reinforce habits that will not serve students well in the future.

Q: Is it possible for a student to earn this exemption option in some of their classes, but not earn it in other classes?
A: Yes. The total absences and tardies for each class are calculated separately from other classes.

Q: When a student is marked present for school, but misses a class due to a school approved field trip or sports event, does this count against a student’s total of absences?
A: No. Students who are in attendance at school-sponsored events have never been counted as absent from school during those events.

Q: What about medically excused or other excused absences?
A: To avoid having to discriminate between what actual school absences should “count” and which should not for this incentive, three absences of any kind per semester will be the limit. If a student is absent or tardy (unexcused) for four or more sessions of any class in a semester for any reason, they will be required to take the final exam as usual. Taking final exams has never been a punishment. Taking a final exam will allow the student to show their mastery of concepts in spite of missed class time.

Q: If a student earns and chooses the option to be exempt from the final exam for a class, how will their final semester grade in that class be calculated?
A: Instead of the semester grade being based on 40% for one quarter grade, 40% for the other quarter grade, and 20% for the final exam, each quarter grade will be worth 50% of the semester grade. Students who earn an exemption in a class may still have the option of taking the final exam to be calculated into their semester grade (40%-40%-20%) if they wish.

Q: Can this apply to classes that are taken online, that are taken as dual-enrollment with Yavapai College, or are taken in conjunction with Mountain Institute CTED?
A: No, this can only apply to classes taken in person at PHS, in courses that are exclusively under the purview of PHS.

Q: Are students still required to attend school during a final exam session for a class in which they have earned and chosen to not take the final exam.
A: Yes. We will have a venue available at PHS to relax or study, as an option for any students who are not taking final exams.

A Frequently-asked BONUS QUESTION, related to attendance, although not directly to this incentive:

Q: If a student loses credit in one or more classes for having more than 9 absences or more than 4 unexcused absences in a semester, are there ways to appeal that loss of credit?
A: Yes. See the information at Please keep the following in mind:

  • Students will be automatically denied an attendance appeal if they miss their appeal appointment, if they have already done the appeals process twice before, or if they have 15 or more absences without a valid, documented medical or bereavement excuse.
  • Appeals denied by the PHS Attendance Appeals Committee may only be referred to the PHS administration for further review if a student has obtained additional, NEW evidence to present.
  • If a student loses credit for attendance reasons in a class required for graduation, they must consult with their PHS academic advisor to plan for retaking the class in person or online.


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