Student Support Services

Assistant Commissioner Butterworth's field memo: "New Regulations on Pupil Attendance"

To: District Superintendents
            Superintendents of Schools
            Administrators of Nonpublic Schools

From:   James R. Butterworth

Subject: New Regulations on Pupil Attendance

Date:    November 2001

At its October meeting, the Board of Regents amended section 104.1 of the Regulations of the Commissioner concerning pupil attendance. This action represents the culmination of over two years of work which included individual and group consultation with attendance practitioners, the development of recommendations by a Statewide Attendance Advisory Council, an extensive literature search and several policy discussions by the Board of Regents.

The revised regulation affects three general areas:

  • Content and responsibility for the record of pupil attendance.

  • Review of attendance data by school building administrators for the purpose of identifying pupil attendance problems and initiating appropriate action to improve pupil attendance.

  • Development of a Comprehensive Attendance Policy by each school district.

Attached is a copy of the revised regulation. From December 2001 through February 2002, the Department will conduct regional workshops concerning these new requirements. Specific guidance will be provided regarding:

  • Taking and recording of period-by-period attendance.

  • Determination of excused and unexcused absence.

  • Relationship between pupil attendance and course credit.

  • Development of comprehensive attendance policies.

  • Other pertinent topics.

A schedule for these workshops will be released in the near future.

Although full implementation of this regulation will not be expected until the 2003-2004 school year, the district’s Comprehensive Attendance Policy must be adopted by June 30, 2002. Accordingly, the following actions are recommended:

  • Review the regulation – After you have reviewed the requirements of the revised regulation, share it with school board members, building administrators and all others who currently have responsibility for pupil attendance.

  • Form a policy development team – It is critical that the development of the Comprehensive Attendance Policy be done in a collaborative manner. Individuals representing the school board, administrators, teachers, parents and students should be involved in a meaningful way. This is especially important because decisions are being made concerning the reasons for excused versus unexcused absences and the procedures/standards associated with any process for the denial of course credit resulting from unexcused pupil absences.

  • Examine current attendance programming/practices – As you begin to develop your policy, examine what is currently in place to determine how it matches up with the new requirements. A great deal of what has been incorporated into the new regulation reflects what we know are good practices already in operation in schools throughout the State.

  • Establish a target date for a public hearing – Public school districts, BOCES, charter schools and county vocational education and extension boards must conduct at least one public hearing prior to the adoption of the Comprehensive Attendance Policy. The hearing must provide for the participation of school personnel, parents, students and other interested parties.

Attendance is a critical factor for student success in school. Consistent school attendance, improved academic performance and school completion have a positive correlation and will contribute to your efforts to assure that all of your students reach the higher standards established by the Board of Regents. If you have any questions, please contact the Student Support Services Team at (518): 486-6090.

Last Updated: February 25, 2009