Don’t count attendance.

That’s a recommendation the same paper makes. She says it “obscure[s] the primary meaning of the grade.”

I vote to throw that recommendation out the window. Here’s why:

I have daily grades in class, sometimes 200 points worth. Those daily grades, along with homework and attendance, constitute 25% of the grade. If I don’t count attendance, some students won’t come. Then they’ll miss the daily grades. The daily grades change. Sometimes there are none. Sometimes they’re worth 25 points.

I also grade, in attendance, for arriving late, leaving early, and ringing phones.

I want the students in class because that’s where they find out what they need to know. (And because I have to be there and I think I am giving them something worthwhile.) So I grade for attendance. It’s not a lot, but it is something.

This semester I have a student who thinks he is brilliant. I was agreeing with him for a while. But then he asked to leave because he “already knows this stuff.” I told him he could. He didn’t come back till the paper was due, three weeks later, and it was in the totally wrong format. He made a D. He didn’t come back again till the second paper was due. And he didn’t bring that. So he’s flunking. Brilliant or not, students need to be in class to do the work correctly. And that’s what they’re supposed to do, so I grade them on attendance.

This is the one grade where effort counts. If they show up to every class, they make a better attendance grade than someone who doesn’t. And I have proof I’m counting their effort, without grading primarily for effort. It gives them incentive to come and it helps their grade if they do. But it doesn’t help enough to change their grade, unless they’re on the borderline of a grade.

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