Student Support Services

Questions and Answers on the Attendance Regulation Commissioner’s Regulation 104.1 (last reviewed 6/2014)


The term LEA (local educational agency) will be used herein to denote:

  • A public school district,
  • A Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES),
  • A charter school,
  • A county vocational education and extension board and
  • A nonpublic elementary, middle or secondary school.

The term "board of education" will be used herein to denote:

  • A public school board of education,
  • A nonpublic school governing board,
  • A Board of Cooperative Educational Services(BOCES),
  • A charter school board,
  • A county vocational education and extension board and
  • An administrator of a nonpublic school.


Overall goals of pupil attendance recording:

  • To ensure the maintenance of an adequate record verifying the attendance of all children at instruction in accordance with Education Law, Section 3205;
  • To establish a practical mechanism for every public and nonpublic elementary, middle and secondary school in the State of New York to account to the parents of all children enrolled in such schools for the whereabouts of such children throughout each school day; and
  • To ensure sufficient pupil attendance at all scheduled periods of actual instruction or supervised study activities to permit pupils to succeed at meeting the State learning standards.

Objectives of attendance policy at the LEA level:

  • To confirm that students are meeting compulsory attendance requirements;
  • To know the whereabouts of every student for safety and school management reasons;
  • To identify individual and group attendance patterns;
  • To provide data to develop interventions to help close the gap in student performance, given the high correlation between attendance and achievement; and
  • To determine the district’s average daily attendance for State Aid purposes.


  1. What is the register of attendance?

    It is any written or electronic record a school maintains for the purpose of recording the

    • attendance
    • absence
    • tardiness or
    • early departure from school of a pupil.

    The record of attendance will include daily attendance information (all schools) and period by period attendance information (departmentalized school buildings).

    The format and location of the register of attendance will be determined by each LEA. It may include a compilation of documents which are maintained both at the building and the classroom levels, depending upon the procedures employed by the LEA to record attendance.

  2. What information is required in a register of attendance?

    The minimum pupil information required in a register of attendance is:

    • name
    • date of birth
    • full name(s) of parent(s) or person(s) in parental relation
    • address where the pupil resides
    • phone number(s) to contact the parent(s) or person(s) in parental relation
    • date of the pupil’s enrollment
    • record of pupil’s attendance on each day of scheduled instruction, including period by period data, where applicable
    • date the pupil withdraws or is dropped from enrollment, where applicable and
    • a record of when school was closed for all or part of the day because of extraordinary weather conditions or school building emergencies.
  3. Must schools continue to use the attendance register format approved by the Commissioner?

    No. The regulation defines the register of attendance as any written or electronic record maintained for the purpose of recording the attendance, absence, tardiness or early departure for a pupil. As long as the register contains the information set forth in CR 104.1(d), the LEA is free to develop its own format to be used within the context of its comprehensive attendance policy.

  4. Will all schools be required to record attendance information electronically?

    No. The decision to use either written or electronic records, or both, is left to the LEA.

  5. When must attendance be taken?

    Each school is expected to take attendance at least once a day for state aid purposes. LEAs should determine what time of day/period to take daily attendance. To clarify further:

    A non-departmentalized elementary, middle or junior high school which features self-contained classrooms and supervised group movement to other scheduled school activities (e.g., physical education in the gym, assembly, etc.) should:

    • take attendance once a day if the pupils remain in the school for a supervised lunch period
    • take attendance once upon entering school and again after returning from an unsupervised lunch period away from the school grounds
    • create a mechanism that is timely and accurate for transferring attendance data to the building level. It is up to the LEA to determine how this will be accomplished.

    A departmentalized middle, junior high or high school in which students pass individually to different classes throughout the day should:

    • take attendance each period of the school day that pupils pass without supervision to a different period of instruction or supervised activity (e.g., study hall, assembly, etc.)
    • take attendance after pupils return from a scheduled lunch period when they may be unsupervised or can leave the school grounds
    • create a mechanism(s) that is timely and accurate for transferring period by period attendance data to the building level. It is up to the LEA to determine how this will be accomplished.
  6. What are some examples of mechanisms to transfer attendance data from the classroom to the building level?
    • Period by period attendance data might be transferred by telephone, by pick-up from a folder outside the classroom, by having a student carry the information, by sending an electronic file via computer,
    • Each LEA is expected to adopt mechanisms to transfer attendance data which are best suited to meet local needs.
  7. Who must take attendance?

    Attendance is to be taken by teachers or other employees designated by each board of education, BOCES, or a non-public school.

  8. Who is responsible for supervision of the register of attendance?

    The board of education must designate a teacher or other employee to supervise its attendance recording process (register of attendance).

  9. How should the person who is responsible for reviewing attendance records and initiating intervention strategies (supervision) be selected?
    • The person or persons designated within each building depends on the size of its student population, the grade levels involved and the attendance policies developed by the educational agency.
    • In large schools the responsibility for reviewing records and initiating corrective actions might be shared among several people.
    • In small schools, the building principal could have sole responsibility for attendance review.
    • Except for the principal/administrator, the titles of the designated individuals are less important than their ability to carry out the functions required for review of pupil attendance records and to take appropriate action.
    • The individual(s) chosen should have a good understanding of the intent of the local attendance policy and knowledge of successful strategies to overcome negative attendance patterns and encourage positive attendance, learning and achievement.

    Provision should be made for appropriate training, as needed.

  10. What information must be recorded when attendance is taken?
    • When attendance is taken the following information must be recorded: student presence, absence, tardiness and early departure; this applies to both daily and period by period attendance.
    • The LEA should establish the process by which attendance is recorded as part of its comprehensive attendance policy. It may choose to "record" the presence of a student, using a null field, also called "default." In other words, if nothing is recorded for a student, that student is deemed to be present.
    • The absence, tardy, or early departure should be coded with the district’s code for the specific absence as soon as the reason is available.
    • If a district has established a minimum standard of attendance for course credit, a mechanism should be developed to inform the classroom teacher whether the absence is excused or unexcused.
  11. Where should attendance records be kept?
    • Each LEA must determine the storage location of the attendance documents, including all required information.
    • The LEA may determine that the official attendance record will be kept in multiple locations; for example, early departure may be kept in a file at the building level, whereas period by period attendance may be kept at the classroom level.
    • Back-up copies of any electronic records must be kept in a secure, off-site location. See Question 18 for additional information on maintenance of electronic records.
  12. How is the accuracy of attendance information verified?
    • The person who makes entries in any written or electronic record of attendance is required to sign an oath or affirmation declaring the accuracy of the attendance records.
    • LEAs should determine how the oath or affirmation is administered and documented.
    • The attendance information should be verified as often as is necessary to ensure that the person responsible can, in fact, assert that the information is correct. The LEA should establish this time frame.
  13. Who is responsible for the review of attendance records?

    Building Level

    • Pupil attendance records must be reviewed by the principal of every public school building or the administrator in charge of every non-public school, as well as the individual(s) designated in each school building to initiate appropriate action to address unexcused absence, tardiness and early departure patterns.
    • The LEA must determine the process and frequency for review of attendance records at the building level, based on local needs.

    District Level

    • The board of education must review the building level attendance records annually.
    • Revision of the comprehensive attendance policy should be done when the analysis of attendance data identifies decline in attendance that is linked to limitations or omissions in the policy.
  14. Can a building principal delegate his or her responsibility to review attendance records?

    No. The public school building principal or nonpublic school administrator is ultimately responsible for the review of attendance records. However, s/he may delegate responsibility for such tasks as preparation of preliminary analysis, draft reports, recommendations, interventions, etc., based on the attendance data.


  15. How should attendance data be used at the building level?
    • Attendance data at the building level can be used:
    • to identify absent students, particularly for safety reasons;
    • to identify individual and group attendance patterns;
    • to identify and initiate strategies to improve the attendance of individuals, targeted groups or the student body as a whole.
  16. How is attendance data to be used at the district level?
    • Each year the LEA’s board of education must review the data from the building level attendance records to determine how successful its comprehensive attendance policy is in maintaining or improving attendance in each of its school buildings.
    • If building level attendance records show a decline, the board is required to determine if it is necessary to revise its policy to make changes to improve overall pupil attendance in the coming year.
  17. What is meant by a "group attendance pattern"?

    Two examples of group attendance patterns are:

    • the consistent absence of a group of students from a particular period, e.g. first period, the period after lunch, last period; and
    • the consistent absence of several athletes on post-game mornings that does not coincide with any school sanctioned activity.

    The nature of the group and the specific pattern would be identified through the process of review of the attendance record by the responsible individual(s).

    Note: Individuals may engage in these same kinds of absences as well; they would simply not be identified as part of a group when absences are assessed.

  18. What attendance data will be collected by the State Education Department?

    Cumulative attendance data, specifically a district’s average daily attendance, will continue to be collected and reported to SED, for state aid purposes.

    This regulation does not create any additional requirements for reporting LEA attendance data to the State Education Department.


  19. Does this regulation change any of the requirements for retention of attendance records?

    No. There are no changes in the requirements for retention of attendance records. Here is a brief review:

    • The Records Retention and Disposition Schedule (ED-1) calls for a 6-year retention period for attendance register data, either in electronic format or hard copy.
    • Part 188.20 of the Commissioner’s Regulations on the retention and preservation of electronic records requires that LEAs have a plan, procedures and storage facilities to make sure that electronic records are maintained and stored properly for as long as is required.
    • It also requires that existing electronic LEA records be converted if a new electronic system is installed so that the records continue to be accessible and useful. Note: Paper records DO NOT have to be converted into the new electronic format, only old electronic records.
    • Part 188.20 of the Commissioner’s Regulations specifically requires LEAs to prepare and store back-up copies of electronic records in a secure off-site facility in order to safeguard against loss.
    • Backup of attendance records may be accomplished with either an electronic copy, a hard (paper) copy, or both.

    Comprehensive Attendance Policy

    The purpose of a comprehensive attendance policy is:

    • to ensure that the LEA can maintain adequate attendance records on each of its compulsory school age pupils;
    • to be able to keep track of pupils throughout the school day;
    • to be able to tell parents where their enrolled children are throughout the school day;
    • to identify patterns of behavior that may require school/parental attention; and
    • to increase the likelihood that students will achieve the academic standards.
  20. Who must have a comprehensive attendance policy?

    Each public school district, board of cooperative educational services (BOCES), charter school, county vocational education and extension board and nonpublic elementary, middle and secondary school must adopt a comprehensive attendance policy by June 30, 2002.

  21. Will a sample or model comprehensive attendance policy be available?
    • The State Education Department will not be formulating a sample or model policy.
    • The NYS School Boards Association has developed a sample policy. Public school NYSSBA members may contact NYSSBA at 518-783-0200 and ask for the Policy Department.
    • Some BOCES are reportedly developing sample or model policies as well.
  22. Does the draft comprehensive attendance policy have to be submitted for approval?
    • The comprehensive attendance policy must be approved by the LEA’s board of education, after soliciting input through at least one public hearing.
    • No formal state approval is required.
  23. How might a district go about developing its comprehensive attendance policy?

    It is recommended that each LEA develop its policy through a series of individual and team actions that result in adoption of the policy by the board of education. The following steps are suggested:

    • Have all LEA administrators and all other persons currently responsible for attendance review the regulation in order to understand the content and requirements.
    • Form a policy development team of persons who are willing to work together to draft the comprehensive attendance policy. Include interested individuals who represent the school board, administrators, teachers, parents, community members and students. Include teachers selected by the teachers’ collective bargaining organization(s).
    • Facilitate meaningful dialogue among all represented to ensure that the policy is developed collaboratively. This is especially important because decisions are being made concerning excused versus unexcused absences and the procedures/standards for the denial of course credit.
    • Examine the current LEA attendance data, programming and practices.
    • Analyze what needs to be revised and/or developed to accomplish each of the nine policy elements. (Note: it is not necessary to re-invent elements which already meet the regulations; much of the new regulation reflects good practices already in operation in schools throughout the State.)
    • Draft a comprehensive attendance policy including the nine elements.
    • Conduct at least one public hearing on the policy prior to its adoption. (Required for public LEAs; recommended for non-publics)
    • Establish a time for the hearing so that school personnel, parents, students and other interested parties will be able to participate as required.
  24. When must the LEA have implemented its comprehensive attendance policy?

    Once the comprehensive attendance policy has been adopted (by June 30, 2002), the LEA has an additional year to complete implementation. By July 1, 2003, each LEA is required to have implemented all aspects of the attendance policy, beginning with any summer school program it may have.

    It is strongly recommended that this coming year (July 1, 2002 to June 30, 2003) be used to pilot new aspects of the attendance policy and to engage the entire school community in discussion of the benefits and challenges of implementation.

    An assessment of the implementation process may be used to revise and strengthen the comprehensive attendance policy prior to full implementation.

  25. What are the required elements of a comprehensive attendance policy?

    The nine elements to be included in a comprehensive attendance policy are as follows:

    • a statement of the objectives to be accomplished,
    • a description of the specific strategies to accomplish each objective,
    • a determination of the kinds of absences, tardiness and early departures that will be excused and those that will not be excused; a list of excused and unexcused absences and tardiness to illustrate each; and a description of the coding system to be used in the register of attendance,
    • a description of the LEA’s policy regarding pupil attendance and a pupil’s ability to receive course credit,
      • a description of:
      • incentives to be used to encourage pupils to attend school
    • disciplinary sanctions to be used to discourage unexcused absences, tardiness and early departures,
    • a description of the notice to be provided to the parents of a pupil who is absent, tardy or leaves school early without an acceptable excuse,
    • a description of the process the LEA will use to develop specific intervention strategies to address attendance problems,
    • identification of the person(s) designated in each school building who will be responsible for:
      • reviewing the attendance records and
      • initiating appropriate action to address unexcused pupil attendance according to the LEA’s comprehensive attendance policy
  26. What is meant by objectives and strategies?

    General objectives for comprehensive attendance policies include the following:

    • To confirm that students are meeting compulsory attendance requirements;
    • To know the whereabouts of every student for safety and school management reasons;
    • To identify individual and group attendance patterns;
    • To provide data to develop interventions to help close the gap in student performance, given the high correlation between attendance and achievement; and
    • To determine the district’s average daily attendance for State Aid purposes.

    It is expected that these objectives will form the basis of the LEA comprehensive attendance policy. Additional objectives may emerge from local discussions and review of previous attendance policies, practices, and patterns.

    Strategies should be designed to accomplish the objectives identified by the LEA.

  27. How should the LEA address excused and unexcused absences?

    With this regulation, each LEA has the authority to develop its own definitions for excused and unexcused absences, as well as specific incentives and consequences.

    These definitions will emerge from dialogue and discussion at local level.

    It is suggested that categories of absences be identified as the basis for defining excused and unexcused absences; consider the following:

    • Illness - student
    • Death/illness – family/significant others
    • Legal circumstances - court, lawyers, probation, etc.
    • Other family reasons - visitors, travel, parent work issues, child care, etc.

    Each of these categories could yield a set of excused and unexcused absences that would then be assigned a code.

    Please note: This list of categories should NOT be considered exhaustive; it is offered as a starting point for LEA discussions.

  28. Who decides whether absences, tardiness, and early departure are excused or unexcused?

    It is up to each LEA to determine which pupil absences, tardiness, and early departure will be excused and which will not be excused. LEAs can establish local guidelines for excused and unexcused absences, tardiness, and early departures that reflect local education and community needs, philosophy and priorities.

    Discussions designed to include all members of the school community should inform the development process.

  29. How, when, and what is expected regarding parental notification?

    Parental notification of a student’s absence is a new requirement of this regulation; see Element 7 of the Comprehensive Attendance Policy.

    LEAs need to have discussions with the entire school community, especially parents, when developing this process.

    It is essential to consider what your parents expect and want. At a minimum, notification should be timely and accurate.

    Parents can be active participants in supporting high levels of attendance.

  30. How does this regulation address legal and illegal absences?

    The terms "excused" and "unexcused" now replace "legal" and "illegal."

    The State Education Department is in the process of communicating this change to the following systems which have historically used the "legal/illegal" terminology:

    • Law guardians
    • Probation
    • County Jails
    • Employment preparation education
    • PINS Petition
    • Family Court
    • CPS/Social Services
    • OCFS (Division for Youth)
  31. What coding should the LEA use to record student attendance?

    Each district has the responsibility to develop its own coding system as part of the comprehensive attendance policy. The codes currently in use may form the foundation of the "new" system, if they still reflect local needs and philosophy.

    Revisions and additions will result from the definitions adopted by the LEA for "excused" and "unexcused" absences.

  32. Can an LEA record only absences in the attendance record?

    Each LEA will establish the process by which attendance is recorded as part of its comprehensive attendance policy.

    It may choose to "record" the presence of a student, using a null field. In other words, when nothing is recorded for a student, that student is deemed to be present.

  33. Must tardy and early departure be coded as excused/unexcused?

    Yes. The same codes used for daily and period by period absences should be applied to tardiness and early departure.

    Minimum Standard of Attendance

  34. What is meant by a minimum standard of attendance?

    It is a policy that establishes the minimum attendance required for a pupil to be eligible for course credit.

  35. Must an LEA adopt a policy that establishes a minimum standard of attendance in order for a student to be eligible for course credit?

    No. It is up to the LEA to determine whether or not it will include a minimum standard of attendance for a student to be eligible for course credit as part of the development of its comprehensive attendance policy.

  36. What options are available when the LEA chooses to establish a minimum standard of attendance for course credit?

    A district that adopts a minimum standard of attendance as part of eligibility for course credit:

    • has the authority to determine that an excused pupil absence, for which a pupil has performed any assigned make-up work, should not be counted as an absence for the purpose of determining the pupil’s eligibility for course credit or
    • has the authority to determine that all absences, whether excused or unexcused, should be counted as absences for the purpose of determining the pupil’s eligibility for course credit.
  37. What responsibilities does the LEA that adopts such a minimum standard of attendance for course credit have?

    It is extremely important that the LEA include in the comprehensive attendance policy a description of:

    • how parents and students are to be informed of the course credit policy;
    • the specific intervention strategies to be used with a student prior to denial of course credit as a result of failure to meet the attendance standards;
    • the specific consequences to students who exceed the allowed number of absences; and
    • any appeals process available to resolve a challenge from a student or family member related to the application of the minimum standard of attendance to a student’s eligibility for course credit.

    Note: LEAs are strongly urged, but not required, to include such a process in their comprehensive attendance policy in anticipation of appeals.

  38. Can a minimum attendance policy be applied at the middle school level, where most courses are non-credit bearing?

    Traditionally, credit-bearing courses have been restricted to the high school level. However, an LEA which awards credit for courses taken by middle school students may establish a minimum standard of attendance for such courses.

    In addition, an LEA may choose to craft a policy which includes attendance standards for consideration for grade level promotion.

  39. Can an LEA have an attendance policy that establishes minimum standard of attendance during the regular school year as a prerequisite for summer school enrollment?

    Yes, Application of Attendance Policies

  40. Does the minimum standard of attendance for course credit change the application of Part 109.2 regarding religious observance and religious education?

    No. Part 109.2 of the Commissioner’s Regulations recognizes an absence from school for religious observance or religious education during school hours as excused for those pupils whose parents submit a signed written request.

    Absence for religious observation or religious education is always excused.

  41. Does the LEA’s attendance policy apply to students with disabilities?

    Yes. However, applicable procedural safeguards set forth in Part 201 of the Commissioner’s Regulations must be followed.

    LEAs are encouraged to involve their CSEs in discussions of how the comprehensive attendance policy affects students with disabilities.

  42. When students attend BOCES programs, whose policy should apply to their attendance?

    The BOCES policy applies to expectations and documentation of student attendance for courses taken during both regular and summer school sessions.

    The BOCES makes a recommendation to the LEA about course credit, based in part on the student’s attendance; the local district administration awards the credit.

    Since attendance policies are a product of local decision-making, it is possible that differences will exist between component LEA policies and BOCES policies.

    BOCES are encouraged to consult with their component schools during the development of LEA and BOCES policies, to promote consistency to the extent reasonable and appropriate.

  43. If a student from one district takes a summer school course at another district, which attendance policy applies?

    The attendance policy of the district offering summer school applies to all students in attendance, regardless of their home district.

  44. When a district ADOPTS a minimum attendance standard for course credit in its attendance policy, can different thresholds of absences be established for different groups of students?

    No. The same standard must apply to all students.

    Once the LEA has established its guidelines for excused and unexcused absences, tardiness, and early departures, all school staff must apply them consistently. No one may use a different standard than the one established by the LEA as a whole.

  45. Can an LEA have different attendance requirements for students in the same grade levels?

    No. An LEA's attendance policy applies to all students that are similarly situated within the district.

    Groups of students at the same grade levels are subject to the same standard even if they attend classes in different buildings.

    For example, all high school students in a district must meet the same attendance requirements, even if there is more than one high school building.

  46. Can an LEA establish different attendance requirements for elementary, middle/junior high school, and/or high school?

    Yes. An LEA may develop a policy which differentiates between elementary, middle, and/or high school, as long as the policy is reasonable and applies to all students within the designated groups in the district.

    All students who are similarly situated within the district's designated groups must be treated the same.

    For example, specific requirements for middle school students apply to all middle school students in the district, while different requirements may apply to all high school students in the district.

  47. Can you treat students of compulsory age and non-compulsory age differently regarding attendance?


  48. In a non-public elementary school that serves multiple districts, who makes the final determination of whether or not an absence is excused or unexcused if the LEA(s) and the private school have different attendance policies?

    The policies of the private school apply to all students who attend it, regardless of the policy of their home school.

  49. How should attendance be handled in hybrid buildings, e.g. some classes are self-contained, some are departmentalize?

    The LEA is responsible for determining how variations of classroom structure affect attendance recordkeeping.

    The variations in structure of LEAs are too numerous to allow a single response. Each LEA must establish the logic of procedures for how attendance will be managed in order to achieve the objectives of its comprehensive attendance policy.

    The comprehensive attendance policy should provide staff and the school community with the process to be followed in each instance.

    Incentives and Sanctions

    A separate document has been developed which offers guidance on incentives.


  50. Who needs to be informed about the comprehensive attendance policy of the LEA?

    Schools should make every effort to ensure that students understand the attendance policy and their rights and responsibilities within it.

    The governing board of the LEA must also:

    • provide a plain language summary of the policy to the parents of all pupils in its schools at the beginning of each school year;
      • NOTE: Plain language means that whatever is written or spoken is at a level that all parents should be able to read or hear and understand. Plain language text should also be translated into other languages for parents whose primary language is not English. ]
    • provide all teachers with a copy of the complete policy including any amendments; and
    • make copies available to community members upon request.

Last Updated: June 3, 2014