Attendance doesn’t equal learning

Mandatory class attendance in college has been debated for years. Students and professors are found on both sides of the argument. According to the California Community College curriculum, “Attendance is not part of a course subject matter or a discipline-specific skill and therefore may not be separately assessed as part of the course curriculum.”

However, it seems as if many professors have found some loopholes.

Participation points and most in-class work are merely tools that teachers have to require students be in class each day.

But the truth is, teachers at this level are not babysitters. They do not have the same level of responsibility for their students as teachers, and the school as a whole, as the high school and lower levels do.

A Bloomberg article from 2007, “Treating college students like school children,” urges that students be graded on “how they perform and what they create, not whether they keep a seat warm.”

If a student completes the work needed and passes any quizzes and exams, whether or not they were in the room for the other days should not matter.

In fact, if students that fully understand the material don’t go to class it allows more possible one-on-one class time between the instructor and students who need assistance.

While attendance may not be part of the grade, there is the ever-looming threat of being dropped from a class after a certain number of absences, and in the case of some classes, tardies.

The policy was created to combat financial-aid scammers. There are reports of people signing up for classes merely to receive financial aid. Once the check clears, they’re never in class again.

Similarly, teachers are instructed to drop students that do not attend the first class meeting. The school is fined for each of these students that is a no show and never dropped.

College students have responsibilities beyond classes. Sixty percent of community college students work 25 hours, while 25 percent work more the 35 hours. Work, family and other needs require a student to not attend class. They are hurt by missing the information presented in lecture. That is compounded by points, and at times entire letter grades, lost due to absences and tardies.

Punishing hard working students can diminish their desire and motivation to continue their education. Requiring class attendance could actually increase dropout rates. According to, inability to balance school, work and family is one of the top reasons for dropouts.
The debate is not about whether regular class attendance improves grades. It probably does. The issue is the ways that have been developed to circumvent the state-wide curriculum. What kind of lesson is that to teach?