The transition from elementary to middle school means a new building, new friends, new teachers, new procedures & routines. To ease the transition, each middle school hosts incoming students from their elementary feeder schools after MAP testing. Each middle school also hosts an orientation in the spring or during registration in August. The summer school program would be a great way to immerse incoming students into middle school by meeting teachers, making new friends and learning procedures and expectations at the middle school level.
If you are new to St. Joseph or new to the St. Joseph School District, please call your home school to schedule a visit. We are excited that your student has joined us for middle school and look forward to partnering with you to support a smooth transition to their next level of learning.
- About the Middle School Level
- Tips for a Successful Transition
- How Attendance Supports Learning
- The Importance of Academic Credits
Intentional Design. Middle school is an important transitional time that bridges the gap between the foundational years of elementary school and the increasing academic complexity of the high school level. The middle school experience has been designed to promote academic rigor in a safe and structured environment, while supporting the exploration of multiple academic disciplines and extracurricular activities.
Our Goals. The distinct nature of young adolescents guides the decision-making process about school organization, policies, curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Our goal at the middle level is to ensure that every student learns and every member of the learning community is held to high expectations. Our teaching staff endeavors to provide all students with the knowledge and skills necessary to take responsibility for their lives, to address life's challenges, to function successfully at all levels of society, and to be creators of knowledge.
Make Attendance a Priority. Missouri requires students to attend school 90% of the school year. Students cannot learn if they are not in attendance. Levels of chronic absenteeism have been found to accurately predict whether students graduate from high school. The middle school years are essential to keep students on track for high school and post-secondary success.
Prepare for Change. Students are no longer in elementary. This is an inevitable and natural part of adolescent development. They will test boundaries and sometimes do things you never thought they would do. Sometimes they act one way around parents and another around their friends. They all have the ability to make bad choices. We just need to be there to help them recover and experience the natural consequences.
Get Involved. Middle school is a transitional time for adolescents, which can prove exciting and scary for students and parents. Getting involved in a club or athletic activity is a great way to make friends and discover previously unknown talents. Everyone learns by doing and the middle years are all about jumping in, trying new things, and collaborating with others. Together we are better, so move beyond your comfort zone and get involved with school activities!
Attendance Policy and Procedures
Research shows a direct relationship between regular school attendance and student learning outcomes (Gottfried, 2010; Lamdin, 1996; London, Sanchez & Castrechini, 2016; Roby, 2004). There is no substitute for a missed instructional opportunity due to chronic absence. Students can’t learn if they aren’t present.
The early years of elementary school are essential to develop literacy, numeracy and social skills (Applied Survey Research, 2011). According to Sparks (2011), "a student who can't read on grade level by 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who does read proficiently by that time." If poverty is added as a factor then the below grade level student is 13 times less likely to graduate on time than their proficient or wealthier peer (Sparks, 2011). Poor attendance during the elementary years widens skill gaps that may prove difficult to impossible to overcome through remedial efforts (Attendance Works, 2014). Research indicates that absenteeism in middle and high school can accurately predict high school dropout rates (Balfanz & Chang, 2016; Ginsburg, Jordan & Chang, 2014).
Habits such as regular school attendance become lifelong habits that inform workforce readiness in later years. Regular school attendance is critical for our children's future economic well-being. Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest a strong correlation between educational attainment, employment, and weekly earnings.
Missing School Adds Up Quickly
The impact of missing school is more than you might expect. Review the table below to see how quickly chronic absenteeism can negatively impact student learning.
Equates to days absent
Which is approximately
Which means the number of lessons missed
The Compulsory Attendance Law
Regular school attendance is compulsory by law (Sections 167.031). The law requires all children within the compulsory attendance age to regularly attend a public, private, parochial, parish, home school or a combination of such schools for the duration of the entire school term. The compulsory attendance age is between 7 and 17 years of age (JEA).
State Requirement - The Missouri requirement for school attendance is for 90% of students to be in attendance 90% of the time. Continued absences of those under 17 years of age will be handled in accordance with the law. School administrators and teachers are expected to enforce the law (Section 167.11) and Board Policy (JEA, JEC-1, JED, JED-AP1, JED-AP2, JEDB) regarding attendance. In line with this requirement, the District considers school attendance of at least 90% to constitute “regular attendance” for purposes of the Compulsory Attendance Law. An explanation of this requirement, and how parents will be notified of absences, is included below under the headings, “Attendance Requirements” and “Parent Communication.”
District Expectations - Once enrolled in the district, the district expects the student to attend regularly and for the student's parents/guardians or other adults having charge, control or custody of the student to communicate regularly and honestly with the district regarding the student's absences. Holding students and their parents/guardians responsible for attendance is part of the district's larger mission to train students to be productive citizens and employees. In accordance with Policy JED, district administration has developed clear and reasonable attendance standards and will consistently enforce consequences for chronic absenteeism.
PreK-12 Student Attendance Goal - Every student sets a goal to miss no more than 5 days of school during the school year. Meeting that goal in grades PreK-12 will support readiness for college, career and success as a young adult.
Reporting to Local or State Authorities - The district will contact the Children's Division (CD) of the Department of Social Services or the Buchanan County Prosecuting Attorney’s office in cases where the district has a reasonable suspicion that a student's lack of attendance constitutes educational neglect on the part of the parents/guardians or that parents/guardians are in violation of the compulsory attendance law. No such action will be taken unless other strategies and interventions have been implemented and proven ineffective.
ATTENDANCE REPORTING PROCEDURES
A comprehensive system of attendance records will be maintained for each student. Each teacher is responsible for the accurate reporting of daily attendance in the classroom. The building Principal is responsible for supplying information to parents in regard to student absences, and for submitting attendance information to the Superintendent’s Office.
Daily Absence Reporting
Parents should notify the school each day a student is absent. Parents and school personnel should follow district, CDC, and health department guidelines if the illness is COVID-19 related. Parents/guardians and students should follow the same guidelines for return to school.
If the parent, for some reason, fails to notify school, the school may contact the parent. Students who miss school and fail to provide verbal or written verification of the absence will be marked as “unverified.” All absences, except those for school-sponsored activities, will count against a student’s hours absent. The district encourages doctor and dental appointments to be made after school hours to avoid missing instruction. Students who leave school during the school day without prior parental consent and without checking out through the appropriate office will be considered truant. Students must have parental consent and check out of school through the office.
Make-Up Work Due to Absence
Students have one day to make up missed assignments for each day absent. Students are responsible to find out what class assignments or homework assignments they missed and then complete the work. When absences are anticipated, the student is to contact his/her teacher(s) to determine what assignments are to be completed during the absence. It is the student’s responsibility to check with his/her teacher(s) as to work missed during the absence and the procedure to follow. When absences are due to school business, students are responsible for contacting their teacher(s) as to work missed and procedures to follow in order to complete class assignments by expected due date.
As stated above, under § 167.031, RSMo., a parent, guardian, or other person who enrolls a child in public school are required to ensure that child attends school regularly. The District considers a student to have attended school regularly if they maintain an average 90% or higher attendance rate on a rolling basis, based on actual hours of attendance. Unexcused absences will not count within this attendance rate. Absences resulting in an attendance rate of less than 90% on a rolling basis will be referred to the appropriate authorities for review and appropriate action. Your student’s attendance rate will be calculated on a daily basis.
A rolling basis means that percentage is calculated daily and this daily calculation rolls into a cumulative number. For example, if a student misses three days (which can include partial hours missed) out of thirty school days, they have a 90% attendance rate. If on the other hand a student misses 10 days (which can include partial hours) out of thirty school days, they have 80% attendance.
The following are the SJSD attendance codes for the 2024 school year.
Absent Codes (unexcused)
Absent - Unverifiable, couldn’t reach parent or guardian; left message, no returned call
Bereavement - Funeral or grief (including extended leave)
College Visit - student visiting a potential college (without certified staff supervision)
District Choice - When student is on shortened day due to behavior or academic plan approved by district personnel and parent
Health - Parent or guardian communicated that the student was ill
Legal - Court appearance or hearing; appointment with juvenile officer
Medical (Doctor/Dentist/Hospital) - Documentation required from doctor/dentist/hospital (with dates)
Out of School Suspension - Student has be suspended from school
Parent Choice - Parent decision not to attend school
Student Choice - Student decision not to attend school
Unverified - Student was marked unverified (absent) by the teacher
Vacation - Vacation form approved by the principal or parent stated vacation
Present Codes (excused)
Academic Reassignment - Serving OSS within the district at another location
Homebound - Student is home but receiving district tutoring; 5 hours per week and documentation required
In School Suspension - Student is suspended but still receiving supervision at school
Office/Clinic/Counseling (Secondary Schools Only) - Student is in the office, with the nurse/clinic or with counselors
Post-Secondary Opportunity - Student is on a college or future employer visit with a certified staff member
School Business - Student is under the supervision of a certified staff member in an educational setting comment required
Tardy - Student arrives late but within the 10 minute tardy window
Regular communication will occur throughout the year to inform parents of their child’s attendance. Once a student has missed two (2) consecutive days, their homeroom teacher (K-6) or advisory teacher/office personnel (7-8) will contact the parent via phone call. The teacher or office personnel will document the date of the communication and ascertain the reasons for absences. After 3 days of absence (see attendance codes above) resulting in a rolling attendance below 90%, the school will contact parents. This information will be submitted to the Buchanan County Prosecutor’s office.
When a student reaches five (5) days of absences, resulting in a rolling attendance below 90%, the school will send an informational letter to the parents, regardless of prior contact by phone or conference. This notification and resulting parent meeting will be documented in student records and a copy of the letter will be placed in the student’s permanent file. The information will be submitted to the Buchanan County Prosecutor’s Office.
When a student reaches eight (8) days of absences, resulting in a rolling average attendance below 90%, the school will send an informational letter to the parents, regardless of prior contact by phone or conference. This notification and resulting parent meeting will be documented in student records and a copy of the letter will be placed in the student’s permanent file. This information will be submitted to the Buchanan County Prosecutor’s Office.
After 10 or more days of absence, the information will be submitted to the Buchanan County Prosecutor's Office. That office will send a certified letter requesting contact with the Prosecutor's Office within 10 days of receipt to schedule a meeting at the Buchanan County Courthouse.
On the eleventh (11) related absence resulting in a rolling average attendance below 90%, the student will be strongly recommended to attend summer school and an informational letter will be mailed home to parents. This procedure will be reviewed as needed to determine the student’s requirement for promotion.
ATTENDANCE EXPECTATIONS TO EARN CREDIT
As described on page 24, our attendance goal is for students to miss fewer than five (5) days of the school year. Meeting that goal will support readiness for college, career, and success as a young adult. Additionally, the A+ Schools Program requirement is for students to attain 95% attendance.
A high school student shall be allowed no more than eight (8) related absences per semester in any one class (this includes partial absences). Any absence from a class (including partial absences) will count toward the eight (8) absence maximum and will be noted on attendance updates. On the ninth (9) absence in any one class, the student will not earn credit for that class and an informational letter will be mailed home to parents.
The following are examples of absences that will count toward the eight (8) absence limit: (a) oversleeping, (b) family vacations, (c) going out of town, (d) missing the bus, (e) no ride to school, (f) needed at home, (g) personal business, (h) car trouble, (i) activity camps, (j) mission trips, (k) other absences excused by parents, (l) school suspensions in excess of 5 days, and (m) district/state contests or other school related activities in which the student is not a participant.
The following will not count toward the eight (8) absence limit with proper documentation: (a) hospitalization, (b) death in the family, (c) mandatory court date, (d) religious observance, (e) documented doctor’s appointment, (f) medically documented illness, (g) COVID related quarantines for close contact or positive cases, (h) verified school counseling or office appointment, (i) documented dental/orthodontist appointment, (j) post-secondary opportunities (maximum of 4), (k) first five days of ISS or OSS, (l) school related activities in which the student is a participant.
Parents and students can monitor the record of student attendance in each semester class through the PowerSchool Portal. Progress reports with a record of attendance will be sent home two times per semester. Additional attendance updates may be mailed home if a student has an emerging pattern of absenteeism within a semester, as outlined in the above, “Parent Communication” section.
If the student or parent feels that justifiable or extraordinary circumstances have contributed to not meeting the attendance expectation, the student and parent may appeal to the Attendance Review Committee at their assigned secondary school. The request for an appeal should be completed and filed with the principal within the last two weeks of the semester. The appeal decisions will be communicated to the student and/or guardian by building administration.
The request for a waiver should include documentation of illness, funeral or family emergency from a medical doctor, dentist, minister or other official source. The student and his or her parents may present evidence that the student has missed fewer absences than the district’s records show or that an absence should have been exempted. The review by the Attendance Review Committee shall be held within a reasonable time following the end of the semester.
The Attendance Review Committee will consider the reasons for all of the student’s absences. The committee will consider all relevant information including whether the appeal form was returned to the building principal within ten business days from the date of notification and if the student has supplied reasons for each absence with appropriate documentation. Appeals must be heard and a decision rendered before a student may participate in graduation exercises. The outcome from the Attendance Review Committee will be communicated to the parents by phone and by written communication.
Possible outcomes from an appeal to the Review Committee include:
Credit not awarded.
Credit is awarded.
Student is assigned make-up time for class time missed, once made up credit will be awarded.
Student is placed on probation for the next quarter and/or semester, with credit held pending satisfactory attendance during the probationary period.
ATTENDANCE & ACTIVITIES ELIGIBILITY (Grades 6-12)
If a student misses class on the date of a contest, competition, or after school event without being excused by the principal, he/she shall be considered ineligible to participate or attend on that date. The attendance and eligibility guidelines below can also be found in the SJSD Athletic Handbook.
All students who represent the school in activities must attend school for the full day of classes in order to participate. A full day of attendance is defined as being in school prior to the end of the first class period of the day. If a student misses class without being excused by the principal, the student shall be considered ineligible on that date.
Students must be in regular attendance for the full day of the activity scheduled unless the activity is in another city and it is necessary that the student is absent for travel and participation, or, if the activity is scheduled on a date when school is not in session.
An absence will prevent the student from participating on the day of the absence and it will prevent the student from competing or participating until a full day of classes has been attended.
What is a Credit? Students earn academic credit upon completion of the board approved criteria for coursework. Academic credit is based upon the length of time a course meets throughout a semester or year. Courses that meet daily throughout the year are worth one (1) credit. Courses that meet every other day throughout the year, or daily for one semester are worth a half (0.5) credit.
Why do Credits Matter? High school students must earn 24 credits to graduate from Benton High School, Central High School, or Lafayette High School. The number of credits a student earns impacts their eligibility for athletic or extracurricular activities in grades 7-12 that are sanctioned by MSHSAA, or the Missouri State High School Activities Association. Selective post-secondary programs at Hillyard Technical Center along with colleges and universities require students to earn specific credits (e.g., math, science) in addition to the general credit requirements.
Promotion. Middle school students will earn promotion to the next grade by earning at least 6 credits of the total curriculum, and earning at least 4 credits from the core academic subjects (Mathematics, Reading, Writing, Science, and Social Studies).