Views on the Tardy Policy

Have you ever been in the halls after the bell?  Heard that sound of all the doors closing, and then trudging to a tardy station to get an inevitable detention. You might be wondering, why?

There is a district wide movement to decrease tardies in schools. So the Anchorage School District (ASD) has adopted a program called Start On Time used by some schools. Last year, a training was set up to welcome other schools into the program.  Over the summer, a committee made up of the head principal, discipline principal, security, teachers of West and other support staff met to figure out a way to revise the original Start On Time program.

Previously, the tardy system was progressive and based on referrals. The teachers had to write the referrals after a certain amount of tardies and would lose class time. “A lot of staff felt that there was not a lot of time to write other referrals,’’ Discipline Principal Jennifer Ehrheart stated. But because staff had to write a referral, is was sometimes pushed off and a referral was given after 20 tardies and, since it was the first referral, the student would get the first punishment. That would leave a student who had 20 tardies, serving one detention.

The real determiner was when the committee got the statistics of last year. West Anchorage High School had accumulated 32,041 tardies over the 2013-14 school year, averaging on 300 tardies a day. This was clearly unacceptable and the committee knew something must be done. “We were pretty shocked. We knew there was an issue, but we did not know how bad it was,” said Mrs. Ehrheart. So the committee came up with the revised version of the original Start On Time program which is what West has today.

This new tardy policy is actually proving itself helpful. Teachers do not have to write anything, where as in last year’s policy the teachers did most of the work.  Now the detentions are automatic and no tracking is necessary. The only thing teachers have to do is be out in the halls during passing periods and close their door when the bell rings. Then when a tardy student shows up, the teacher validates the tardy pass and goes on with teaching.

A good proof of the new policy being helpful is that, “It is getting students to class on time,” said security member Antonio Wyche. “There is about 10 tardies after first hour during each passing period.”  It is estimated that the tardy count has decreased by 90 percent.

There has not been much complaining about the policy, and most people are understanding and are fine with it.  Though, according to security member Antonio Wyche, some students still complain and say things like “I was only a minute late” or, “I was almost at the door” and other different excuses. “As long as we are working with them, and not being totally black and white, and there is wiggle room for grey in the mix, kids are pretty understanding about what is going on” said Principal Rick Stone when asked if students complained to him at all.

The main goal of the tardy policy is to start getting students to class on time and not out wandering in the halls. “ Change is hard but it is needed,” said Wyche. West needs to get on its feet and start getting to class on time. Last years tardy policy just wasn’t acceptable, 32,041 tardies, that is an extremely large number and it needed to be fixed. So to the best of the staff’s knowledge, the new tardy policy is the answer.