Effective Date: October 1, 2003
Responsibility: Superintendent of Program and Schools and Superintendent of Business
This administrative guideline is designed to set out the duties of Principals and school staff in monitoring and recording student attendance.
Good attendance is a major contribution to student success, and poor attendance leads to failure and low achievement. In addition, all schools must report and monitor student attendance in accordance with Ministry of Education requirements.
Students of compulsory school age and their parents are responsible for regular school attendance under Section 28 of the Education Act. Principals are required to maintain attendance records and report poor attendance to the Attendance Counsellor under Section 265 of the Education Act and Subsection 23 of Regulation 298. Additional information is provided through an annual circular entitled “Instructions for the Use of Computerized Enrolment Registers for Elementary and Secondary Schools” which is issued annually to each school.
4.0 Monitoring Student Attendance
The Near North District School Board Attendance Handbook provides suggestions for school staff in monitoring student attendance and in making referrals to the Attendance Counsellors when problem attendance occurs.
4.1 In the case of a pupil who is seriously ill, the pupil’s name shall remain on the register and appropriate documentation must be kept on file. The documentation must include letters from parents, medical notes or information regarding work sent home. A referral to the Attendance Counsellor is not required in this case, but the documentation must be stored with the school register and not in the OSR.
4.2 It is crucial that schools address recurring attendance concerns as soon as possible. Once a pattern of poor attendance is noted, parents need to be contacted to involve them in helping the student to improve his or her attendance.
4.3 Where the attendance does not improve, the student must be referred to the Attendance Counsellor. In keeping with Ministry requirements for the maintenance of enrolment registers, the Principal must retire a student who has been absent on the sixteenth consecutive day of absence. Retirement must occur unless the student is of compulsory school age and the matter has been referred to the Attendance Counsellor. The Attendance Counsellor must take action and provide the school with documentation that action has been taken. On-going documentation is required indicating that the pupil’s file is still active if the student is to remain on the roll for one or more subsequent 15-day periods. This documentation must be received by the Principal at the beginning of each 15-day period. The fact that a student of compulsory school age has been referred to the Attendance Counsellor for non-attendance does not remove the student’s obligation to attend nor does it absolve the Board or the school of its responsibility to encourage the student and his or her parents to have the student attend. Students who fail to return to school will be removed from the roll on the day following the last documented 15-day period.
4.4 Students over the age of compulsory attendance who have not withdrawn from school must be retired on the 16th consecutive day of absence unless there is appropriate supporting documentation to keep the student on the roll. The student is shown as a retirement on the day that the school is informed that the student is not returning.
4.5 Section 4.2 above does not apply to students who are excused from attendance under Section 21(2) of the Education Act. This section lists a number of reasons for which a student may be excused from attendance.
4.6 In situations where students display chronic absenteeism, more drastic measures may need to take place. These might include referral to an alternative program, a SALEP program, or, if needed, court proceedings. The Principal, school staff and the Attendance Counsellor work together to develop an approach for each student.
5.0 Reporting Student Attendance
Each year the Ministry of Education issues instructions for the completion of enrolment registers in all schools. Principals must ensure that these instructions are followed closely as it is through the maintenance of school attendance registers that the Ministry funds School Boards. Key dates are the last school days in October and March when the enrolment numbers are submitted for grant purposes. In addition, the attendance of First Nation students must be carefully recorded and reported.
5.1 Separate elementary registers need to clearly indicate the following:
5.1.1 A definition of the student’s status:
i) full-time - those students other than Kindergarten or Junior Kindergarten who receive 210 minutes of instruction per day.
ii) half-time - students enrolled in Junior Kindergarten or Kindergarten for 150 or more minutes per day.
iii) part-time - this term refers to students who are registered for classroom instruction for less than 210 minutes per day.
5.2 Secondary registers need to clearly indicate the following:
i) full-time - students who are registered for classroom instruction for 210 or more minutes per day.
ii) part-time - students who are registered for instruction for fewer than 210 minutes per day.
5.3 Reporting of Attendance for First Nations Students
The Ministry parameters for determining student status as full or part-time are applied in reporting the enrolment of First Nations students. As outlined in the Tuition Agreements, student’s names are recorded on the nominal roll, and once this information has been verified with the First Nations, the tuition billings are prepared on the basis of the FTE enrolment on the last day of school in October and the last day of school in March. As of the count date, the student’s residence determines his or her place on the school’s roll or the nominal roll of the First Nation.
5.4 Home Instruction
Home instruction may be provided when a student will be absent from school due to medical problems. Regulations regarding Home Instruction are set out in the Near North District School Board’s administrative guideline entitled, “Home Instruction”. The attendance for students who are on home instruction is to be recorded as if they were attending classes. Students must be approved, in writing, for home instruction prior to having their attendance recorded as if they were in class. (In cases where only homework is being provided by the school to help him or her keep up with school work, this assistance is not home instruction and the pupil must be marked absent for the days when he or she is not in attendance. He or she may be maintained on the roll if appropriate documentation is on file.)
5.5 Home Schooling
A pupil is excused from compulsory attendance under home schooling because the parents are providing “satisfactory” instruction at home. The administrative guideline “Home Schooling” sets out the position of the Near North District School Board on this issue. Appropriate documentation must be on file. Principals are asked to discourage home schooling as much as possible.
5.6 Supervised Alternative Learning for Excused Pupils
This is a program that permits a student between the ages of 14 and 16 to be involved in a SALEP program as an alternative to regular school attendance. The student’s alternative program must include some combination of work experience, life skills, training and continuing education. The “Supervised Alternative Learning For Excused Pupils” administrative guideline sets out the process by which a parent may apply for and have a SALEP application approved. (See Supervised Alternate Learning For Excused Pupils Administration Guideline).
Principals must ensure that students on approved SALEP programs are recorded as full-time on the register. Documentation of the SALEP approval must be kept with the school’s register. When a student in a SALEP program is no longer of compulsory school age, the Principal shall remove the student’s name from the register if he or she is not returning to regular classes.
5.7 Pupils on Educational Exchange Programs
When a pupil is participating in an approved educational exchange program in accordance with clause 49(7) of the Education Act, pupils are recorded on the register as follows:
5.7.1 the pupil leaving to go on exchange is shown as a “retirement”. The date of retirement is the day after the pupil last attended his or her school.
5.7.2 the pupil admitted to the school must be enrolled as a regular “external admission”, and is considered to be a pupil of the Board for the duration of his or her stay in Ontario.
5.7.3 A record of the exchange and the names and dates of the exchanges must be kept with the register at each school and be approved by the Superintendent.
5.7.4 All exchanges must be reciprocal. If not they fall under Visa or other student attendance guidelines.
5.8 Pupils in Care and Treatment Facilities
For the period of time which pupils are attending Care and Treatment Facilities, they are to appear on the register of the Care and Treatment program and they must be removed from the register of their regular school. Students may not appear on both a school’s register and the register of a Care and Treatment Facility regardless of the FTE. To change between registers, a withdrawal and a registration form must be completed.
5.9 Visa Students
Visa students must be identified as such in the Student Information System, and their attendance and the payment of fees must be approved by the Superintendent and a copy of that approval must be kept with the register.
6.0 Requirements For Maintaining School Registers and Enrolment Data
6.1 Principals are required to have appropriate documentation to ensure that enrolment and attendance records are accurate.
6.2 Principals must:
- validate pupil admission, retirement and transfer dates;
- validate full-time equivalency calculations;
- validate the accounting for pupils 21 years and over;
- certify Ministry enrolment registers monthly;
- reconcile October and March enrolment data (Section C) to enrolment data in the registers;
- ensure that there is sufficient documentation on file to explain student absenteeism as required in the circular entitled “Instructions for the Use of Computerized Enrolment Registers for Elementary and Secondary Schools”.
6.3 For audit purposes schools must, at the minimum, maintain the following documents on paper for the current school year and the previous school:
- signed and dated admission, transfer and retirement forms;
- signed and dated add or withdrawal from courses forms;
- date-stamped letters requesting “OSR”;
- school course calendars;
- a copy of the school’s master schedule;
- part-time and full-time registers;
- detailed information regarding the attendance of individual students (Daily Absence Report).
7.0 School Attendance Handbook
Additional information and an outline of the process for making referrals to the Attendance Counsellors is contained in the attached School Attendance Handbook.