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December 02, 2014

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Michael Risch

I haven't tallied mine, but this looks about right. My experience is that Fall has more absences because of callback interviews. My experience is also that the daily signin sheet has boosted attendance.

I think a study of attendance v. grades would be interesting.

Jonathan H. Adler

I only take regular attendance in my first year classes, but I regularly find a correlation between attendance and exam performance. Specifically, those students with the worst attendance are almost always at the bottom end of the curve.

Christine Hurt

I think in a Fall class with a healthy cohort of 2Ls, interviewing would make most students miss at least one class.

Anon

Having taught at 10 different law schools, I can say that attitudes about attendance vary from school to school. Although it can be influenced by the individual professor's approach and expectations, including his/her attention to attendance, I've found it more heavily influenced by the common standards of senior/most faculty. For example where the norm or the focus of the school is on how many absences students can have without direct grade consequences (or where the focus in on the limit before the student will fail, be administratively withdrawn, etc.), students consider absences a "right" and even good students will look at them like they are "use or lose" leave. In these schools, perfect attendance is rare.

What does not vary, though, is the correlation between attendance and final exam performance. For example, in one of my larger required classes, 18 of the top 20 grades went to students with perfect attendance (with the other two students having only 1 absence each). On the flip side, 3 of the 4 lowest grades went to the students with the most abenseces. Of course, attendance records usually correspond to other student habits - like level of preparation and engagement - that impact exam performance, as well. I have tracked this correlation from year to year, from school to school, and it holds true.

another anon

Putting aside the correlation between attendance and performance (which I have also found true in my experience), I think that faculty and students really should keep in mind that ABA Standard 304(d) provides that accredited law schools shall require "regular and punctual class attendance," and Interpretation 304-6 requires that schools must "adopt and enforce policies insuring that individual students satisfy the requirements of this Standard, including the implementation of policies relating to class scheduling, attendance, and limitation on employment."

Any school that regularly lets students miss a substantial number of class sessions or has attendance policies depending solely upon "the individual professor's expectation," or lacks formal policies altogether, would have a hard time squaring that with these Standards when/if asked come ABA site visit time. Whether that Standard is a good idea or not, it is there.

And no, I don't work for the ABA. I'm just sayin': I'm pretty sure the ABA doesn't intend this Standard to be hortatory.

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