Every year I’ve heard the same thing at the start of classes: Attendance is mandatory, excessive absences will result in the lowering of a student’s grade, participation is essential to understanding the course, et cetera and ad nauseam.
Yet the Congressional Quarterly published an analysis of the Senators’ attendance records Jan. 16, and guess what. Only 10 senators made it to every vote.
This is in an institution that gets as many breaks as a millionaire’s son and, in 2007, celebrated a holiday every month except March, August and December.
Of course, it spent the latter two months in recess.
Also, according to the 2007 schedule, Columbus Day is actually a week long.
Now, I’m not faulting the senators for missing – after all, we students have our share of absences. Also, politicians on both sides of the aisle have used the time-honored tactic of avoiding votes on such fun and lively issues as flag burning and prayer in schools.
My problem is that, if the highest governmental body in our land doesn’t make attendance mandatory, why do professors?
If a senator in 2006 had missed more than a few votes, Uncle Sam wouldn’t take a penny from the typical senator’s $165,200 salary.
Conversely, Northern Kentucky University students who receive federal aid lose that money if they miss the first three weeks of class, as The Northerner reported Jan. 24, 2007.
I can understand not giving federal money to someone who drops out before even giving the professor a chance to flunk them. And I can even understand dropping students from filled classes when they don’t show up the first week.
But it seems wrong that most students have to suffer through a variety of attendance policies because of a select few delinquents who won’t even be showing up to class.
Professors, however, have complained to me that some students don’t show up because they know the material already (or at least think they do) and only come on test days.
So, the professors decide to punish the student for being educated? This is the best solution a group of Ph.D.’s can come up with?
Of course not. There is a better way – CLEP tests.
No, it’s not a test for Gonorrhea.
Instead, it’s an equivalency test that, once completed, gives students credit equal to certain classes – namely the humanities and science classes. According to the Web site, http://www.nku.edu/~testing/clep.htm, students can, for $65, take a computerized exam that will give them a grade for classes ranging from basic 100-level courses all the way up to 300-level classes. Students can call (859) 572-6373 to register for an exam.
And NKU students should take the tests. It’s win-win. More advanced students don’t have to sit through boring introductory classes regurgitating stuff they already know. They can spend their time on more challenging and informative classes where they’ll actually learn something.
Professors wouldn’t have to deal with the bored students who don’t want to pay attention, instead focusing on the novices who do need the help.
More CLEP tests would also free up some space in the classes, meaning ENG 101 wouldn’t take up an entire page on the Course Section Search. It could also means more of those advanced classes, some of which are rarer than an honest politician.
NKU should also do everything it can to promote and expand the CLEP tests. It won’t fix the attendance problem, but it will relieve the burden.
Then, perhaps we students can work on getting our own $165,000 paychecks to not show up.