Focus on school improvement: Time to update attendance codes

by Noah Ismael, Web Editor

In February 2014, The Washington Post and other news outlets described the medical coding system used in the United States and the new ICD-10, the manual of approximately 68,000 medical codes that hospitals and insurance companies will use for diagnostic purposes and records. The expectation is that the new manual will help decrease insurance fraud and standardize payment.

The codes are everything from serious to funny. There are codes for your average broken toe, pregnancy, and a heart attack, but did you know that there’s a code for that toe that has gone unexpectedly missing (Z89.419)?

There are codes for injuries caused by squirrels (W53.21), getting hit by a motor vehicle while riding an animal (V80.919), and spending too much time in a deep-freeze refrigerator (W93.2).

All these different codes made me think: here in our school system, we have different codes for absences. For example, code 01 means a legal absence due to a death in the immediate family, 02 is for a legal absence accompanied by a parent’s note, 03 is for a legal absence accompanied by a doctor’s note, and 20 is an illegal absence due to truancy.

The codes are used by the school system as data points for analyzing why students miss school. They are also used to determine if an individual student’s absence should be counted as lawful or not, which can affect high school course credit and graduation.

But what if the Board of Education added some additional codes? Think about all the reasons why students miss school or are late. How many times has a student been absent because he overslept? Or been stuck at the traffic light at 75 and Old Annapolis?  Since educators nationwide seem to want more data about students (the evidenced by an increase in testing), wouldn’t they want to have more data about the reasons why students miss school?

There could be visible benefits to a new coding system, too. For example, some students have had to miss school because their own children were sick. A new coding system could provide FCPS with more data that could address real concerns like these and lead to solutions that will cut down on student absences.

Here are some of Lancer Media’s more lighthearted picks for a new attendance coding system:

Code 2014     Senioritis

Code 2015     Junior who already has senioritis

Code 2017     Freshman lost in building

Code 100        Door to building was locked

Code 102        Fashion emergency

Code 102.1        Fashion emergency-Trouble getting pencil skirt on

Code 102.2        Fashion emergency- Skinny jeans too skinny

Code 102.3        Fashion emergency- Couldn’t find favorite t-shirt

Code 102.4        Fashion emergency- Shoes didn’t match

Code 102.5        Fashion emergency- Bad hair day

Code 102.6        Fashion emergency- Parent said short shorts were too short

Code 102.7        Fashion emergency- Makeup issues

Code 103        Feminine issues

Code 108        Bleeding from shaving

Code 109        Sibling issues

Code 110        Had to finish homework

Code 112        Contact lens stuck in eye

Code 113        Dog threw up on homework

Code 114        Lost e-cig

Code 115        Bathroom delay

Code 116        Random doors locked in building

Code 118        Had to report to probation officer

Code 120        Ran out of minutes on phone

Code 121        Overslept

Code 121.1        Overslept- Alarm clock didn’t go off

Code 121.2        Overslept- Parent didn’t tell student to get up

Code 121.3        Overslept- Stayed up until 3am playing newly released video games

Code 125        Smell of manure made student nauseous

Code 126        Farm responsibilities

Code 126.1        Farm- Tractor wouldn’t start

Code 126.2        Farm- Busy milking cows

Code 126.3        Farm- Feeding the animals

Code 127        Had too much gas/feeling bloated

Code 128        Ran out of gas (car)

Code 130        Traffic (General)

Code 130.01        Traffic- Long line on Old Annapolis Road

Code 130.02        Traffic- Light at 75/Old Annapolis too slow

Code 130.03        Traffic- Pulled over for speeding

Code 130.04        Traffic- Lost car keys

Code 130.05        Traffic- Vehicle was stuck in mud

Code 130.06        Traffic- Stuck behind tractor

Code 130.07        Traffic- Flooded vehicle

Code 130.08        Traffic- Had to park in cornfield

Code 130.09        Traffic- Made wrong turn while driving, got lost

Code 130.10        Traffic- Long line at Dunkin’ Donuts

Code 130.11        Traffic- Bridge at 75

Code 130.12        Traffic- The walk from the lower lot to upper lot took too long