Tardies no longer representative of whether students are on time

February 9, 2017 — by Roland Shen

Tardy system should be re-done to better show whether students are actually tardy or not.

It’s 8:14 a.m., one minute before the final bell rings and class begins. Freshmen scramble to their classes, wary of receiving yet another tardy on their records. Behind them are just as many upperclassmen walking casually through the school, and even when the bell rings, it’s as if they didn’t even hear it.

According to senior Kyle Jew, most upperclassmen have stopped caring about the tardy system, especially after realizing that some teachers don’t follow the system as intended. As the more experienced students at school, they’ve learned through trial and error which teachers won’t mark them late and which will.

The wide range of teacher habits undermine the accuracy of the tardy system. Some teachers enforce a strict tardy policy, marking late anyone who walks through the classroom doors even a few moments after the bell rings. Others are even more demanding, requiring students to have all their materials laid out on their desks before the bell rings.

On the other extreme, many teachers seem to have grace periods of 5, 10 or even 15 minutes. Some choose to not even mark tardies at all and simply submit the daily roster so that every student has perfect attendance.

Then comes the question of the efficacy of the nationwide tardy system in schools — is it really accomplishing its goal of making sure students are on time?

Schools in the U.S. use tardies to deter students from disrupting classes by being late and to make sure school starts and ends at uniform times. Late students slow down the pace of the classroom, and tardies are meant to remedy the problem.

But at SHS, it seems that tardies are now more about what the teachers choose to do rather than how many times students walk into class late. Late students may not even be marked as late, making the tardy system inaccurate and even futile.

This wild inconsistency is not fair for students who have teachers with stricter policies. The main purpose of this system has been completely stripped away, and only aids the students in realizing which teachers are the most lenient with attendance.

As flawed as the system seems, there is a simple solution. Currently, the school requires teachers to mark students as tardy within the first 5 minutes of class. Teachers need to go about a set standard so that any student who walks in a minute or two late will be marked, regardless of teacher. Administrators should also emphasize the importance of the rule to make sure that all teachers follow the policy.

Without implementing such a solution, tardies will continue to be both an inaccurate and misleading way to determine how efficiently classrooms start and end. If the tardy system is in place at all, it’s something worth enforcing properly. Without setting proper regulations for tardies, students will develop the mentality that they can ignore other, more serious school policies without penalty.

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