What Makes for Good Student Attendance Management Systems?

By Jocelyn Levy | 2nd November 2020 | 8 min read

Student attendance management systems are needed in schools because all the evidence points in one direction. The higher student attendance, the better students do in school. No real surprise there. Does that mean schools should be incentivising perfect attendance records and showering those with such records with rewards at the end of the school year? Maybe not.

What to bear in mind with student attendance management systems

Schools should be aiming for student attendance management systems that give them as high a level of attendance as possible with their student’s population. Good schooling obviously simply can’t be done for students not in attendance. Repetition and consistency can be vital for really embedding ideas and for learning, helping students perform better.

That can lead to many schools offering rewards and incentives to those who achieve high levels of attendance. It’s a logical idea: let’s reward those who achieve high attendance to encourage other students to do the same. But one study by Harvard university has shown that such certificate-based rewards have little to no effect on attendance levels and in some cases harm it.

When students are made aware at the start of the year of certificates being handed out at the end of the year or end of term they have little effect, the study of 15,000 students in California found. And actually, if awards are given out at the end of the year with no warning before hand – it can have a detrimental effect in the future. It demotivates students to achieve such high levels in the future.

What they thought was standard behaviour was treated as exceeding expectations by their school, allowing them to sub-consciously relax and think it’s okay to maybe miss a few more days in the future.

Rewards that punish those who rightly miss school for their own physical or mental health are not exactly that desirable too. Sometimes the right thing to do is to miss school – for both the well-being of the student and other students at school. Lavish rewards for perfect attendance can get in the way of that message sometimes. Schools need to encourage those students with detrimentally low attendance records to show up – but pushing for that perfect record from all students – maybe shouldn’t be a priority.

Catered student attendance management systems

Regardless of schools’ targets and intentions, they need student attendance management systems that are accurate and reliable – and that don’t get in the way of the school routine. It’s a real time saver when the task you have to do everyday is made simple and fast – while remaining secure. And we think the way to achieve that varies from school to school. There’s no one size fits all attendance solution.

For example, in secondary schools, attendance might best be monitored by biometric fingerprints. Students just simply scan their fingerprint as they enter a classroom, automatically registering their attendance. But for some schools, a smartcard or PIN might be more appropriate than biometrics.

While in a primary school, such an approach that is dependent on students might not be suitable. In primary schools, we allow registration to be combined with picking from the school lunch menu of the day on a class smart board. This registers students’ attendance simply, and also sends the school kitchen all the information they need for their working day. They know how many portions of each meal to create, helping manage their production flow and stock better.

Find out more here about how BioStore FasTrak implements student attendance management systems that best serve schools and their bespoke needs.