In June, the Wellesley School Committee voted important updates to the WPS attendance procedures that will become effective with the start of the 2024-25 school year. These updates include detailed new procedures that will be included in all school handbooks.

There has been a significant increase in chronic absenteeism throughout the state since the pandemic, and Wellesley Public Schools has not been immune to this trend. Research shows that strong attendance is correlated with strong academic achievement. In addition to our responsibility to provide accurate information to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), we also know that students thrive when they are in school. 

Improving student attendance is an important goal for WPS during the upcoming school year. During the 2022-23 school year, approximately 11 percent of WPS students were chronically absent, which is defined by DESE as missing 10 percent or more of the 180 school days for any reason. This issue has been most acute at WHS. (For 2023-24 attendance numbers through March in Wellesley and around the state, please see this DESE chart.)

Throughout the 2023-24 school year, the WPS administrative team thoroughly reviewed the district attendance data as well as its policies and practices. Although School Committee attendance Policy JH has not changed, key points of the updated attendance procedure that will appear in the student handbook for SY2024-25 include:

  • An “excused absence” is defined by WPS as absence due to illness or injury, bereavement, major religious observances, or other extraordinary family circumstances that are approved by the principal.
  • An “unexcused absence” is defined as repetitive or chronic absence or tardiness due to illness or injury not documented by a doctor or other medical professional; truancy; family vacations; undocumented absences; or non-emergency family situations.
  • For an absence to be excused, parents/caregivers must notify the school on the morning of the absence using the appropriate procedure outlined for elementary, WMS, and WHS. 
  • When a student is approaching 5 unexcused absences, an informational letter will be sent to parents/caregivers, but a meeting will not be required.
  • Notice will be sent to parents/caregivers when students have 5 or more unexcused absences, and a meeting between the school and the family will be required to develop action steps.
  • Please note that DESE allows districts to excuse no more than 7 full days or 14 half-days of attendance in a 6-month period.

The district is committed to working with families to ensure that students attend school regularly, and finding ways to support those who are chronically absent. Those parents or caregivers with questions about WPS attendance policies or procedures are encouraged to reach out to their child’s principal.

Updated Attendance Procedures For 2024-25
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