This year, to comply with new California law, M-A shifted its zero period to happen in a seventh period after sixth period, and ever since the swap, attendance in seventh period classes has been dismal.
Most 7th period teachers report that only about 60-70% of their class attends. English III teacher Livija Kelly said, “On a good day I’ll have 10 students out of a roster size of 18 students.”
History teacher Chloe Gentile-Montgomery reported an average attendance of 17 students in a seventh period class where 27 are enrolled.
Many teachers stated that while having an extra period after school can conflict with extracurriculars, it is rare for students who miss class to be excused through Infinite Campus. Kelly added, “A lot of the time there is nothing in Infinite Campus that would indicate that it’s an excused absence, meaning the students are actually skipping the class.”
All teachers interviewed said that there were patterns in who was consistently missing class. Kelly said, “There are certain students who I have not met once during the entire year.”
Gentile-Montgomery had similar problems. She said, “In seventh period, there are a few students who I have not seen since the first week of school.”
While these issues existed in zero periods in previous years, many teachers noted that instead of students not attending the period altogether, there were more tardy students. History and psychology teacher Jason Knowles said, “From what I saw, there were more tardies in zero period than non-attendances.”
Gentile-Montgomery agreed, saying, “I’ve heard that with zero period there were a lot more tardies, but with seventh period there aren’t so many tardies, it’s either they are there or they are not.”
History teacher Anne Olson agreed, saying, “The thing that impacts my seventh period class more compared to my other classes is the number of students requesting to go to the Zen Den because they’re just tired and worn down from the long school day.”
Teachers have been left helpless and without working solutions to seventh period absences. Kelly said, “I’ve offered extra credit, snacks, and drinks exclusively for my seventh period students as another incentive for them to show up, but that hasn’t worked either. It is a big problem and I’m not sure how to address it.”
While some of the blame can be put on students who willingly skip their classes, many teachers believe that the school schedule does not help the students balance their stress and responsibilities.
Gentile-Montgomery said, “I feel like the way that the school schedule is set up currently with there either being a zero period or a seventh period does not fully allow students to make the most out of the day, because we’re basically choosing between having a bunch of absences in the morning or in the afternoon.”
She continued, “It would make more sense if we were on the all the way block schedule instead of the modified block schedule so that students would have less classes in the day and feel less overwhelmed and able to come to seventh period.”
Most teachers believe that the root of this problem is students being overwhelmed and not wanting to miss out on time with their friends. Kelly said, “Part of me gets it. I think there’s only two English classes with a seventh period, and most of the school is let out after sixth period, and so I get that frustration from the students because so much of high school is having a social life.”
She continued, “Seeing all their friends and groups go and hang out together and then being forced to be in class for another 50 to 90 minutes is hard, and I get that.”
Seventh period also impacts teachers. Olson said, “During seventh period, I definitely am tired, I have less patience, and I have a little bit less resilience in me.”
Olson added, “The root of the issue comes down to fitting seven periods in one day, which is difficult for both teachers and students.”