EXCALIBUR STAFF REPORT
Despite grumbling from students last semester, McQueen’s new tardy program has significantly reduced tardies in the first eight days of the new year, Principal Amy Marable said.
The new program, called Swipe, requires students who are late to class to swipe their IDs at computer stations located around campus. The program automatically marks a student tardy in Infinite Campus, and prints a tardy slip that the student must present to get back to class.
During a press conference with the Excalibur last Friday, Jan. 26, Marable said tardies have fallen by approximately 40 percent since the program started at the beginning of the second semester.
“We think [Swipe is] working really well,” Marable said. “I see kids walking with a sense of urgency and purpose.”
During the last eight days of the first semester, Marable said Infinite Campus recorded 1,894 tardies. In the first eight days since Swipe was implemented, the number dropped to 1,118.
And, Marable suspects last semester’s numbers were even higher because not all tardies were always marked in Infinite Campus.
“We don’t have true data,” Marable said. “Many teachers weren’t accurate with marking tardies because [tardies] were so rampant.”
Though comparing the number of tardies at the end of the semester to the beginning of the new one isn’t exactly comparing apples to apples, Marable said she doesn’t think it’s just Swipe that is creating the change in tardies. Rather, Swipe has helped to create a different environment in the school’s hallways, she said.
“The attitude is changing,” Marable said. “Teachers are out in the hallway encouraging students to get to class, and saying good morning.”
She added, “It’s about creating a culture around campus.”
Response from teachers seems to be positive.
“I appreciate Swipe because sometimes when I’m teaching I forget to change a student from absent to tardy,” English teacher Shani Mustard said..
Government teacher Anil Koshy said he also likes the new program because it makes attendance easier, and gives him more time to focus on his classes.
Students who are tardy six times in a single class period will first receive two lunch detentions. Nine tardies will result in three lunch detentions, and after the twelfth tardy in a single class period students will receive either a two-hour, Friday after-school detention or Saturday detention. Tardies will be tracked over the course of the semester — not each quarter.
Detentions will be served the week after they are assigned in order to give students, their teachers, and parents enough notice, Vice Principal Matt Mackay said.
Students will not be allowed to sit without anything to do during the detentions. Principal Amy Marable said administrators overseeing the after-school or Saturday detentions will have students serve in other ways such as participate in beautification projects around campus if they do not bring work with them to fill the time.
While opinions from the staff have been mostly positive, many students aren’t as excited about Swipe.
“It makes people more late than if they just walked in and the teachers marked them tardy,” freshman Zach Clark said.
While Swipe could be occasionally inconvenient for some students, Marable said it’s actually helped administration recognize those students who are habitually tardy.
“The interaction has been very good [with tardy students],” Marable said. “Even if it hasn’t been for the most positive reasons. Every student has a story. It’s really important to find out what those stories are and how to help them.
“We have resources to help students – bus passes, resources in the community, to help meet their needs.”
So far, no students have accumulated enough tardies to meet any of the school’s consequences. In an ideal world, Marable hopes Swipe will continue to encourage students to get to class on time.
“I hope [the culture] doesn’t wear off,” she said. “I hope it instills value to be in the classroom.”