Tracking Attendance and Engagement During Distance Learning
By the EdTec Data Team
August 18, 2020
This past spring, many schools learned that tracking student attendance and engagement during distance learning can be a complicated and often messy process. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be! There are many ways to track attendance and engagement in this new learning environment, and you’ll be in better shape if you clearly define which methods your school will use from the start. Accurate data is not only necessary for reporting purposes, it will also help your school to identify students who are not engaging and risk falling behind. We’ve put together a few tips to help schools get a plan in place to track student attendance and engagement this school year.
#1 Continue to take attendance on a daily basis
Most schools need to collect daily attendance to provide evidence of whether a student is present or absent to fulfill state, district, and/or other reporting requirements. This data is also important so that school leaders and teachers have an accurate picture of which students are participating in distance learning and which are not. This data can be used to inform optimal resource allocation and determine the appropriate interventions and supports for those students who need it most.
#2 Develop a consistent process for taking attendance that can be applied across learning models
Schools will likely switch between different instructional models during the 2020-2021 school year, so there should be processes and systems that allow for a seamless transition in attendance recording. To minimize confusion, consider setting up a daily Advisory or Homeroom class that can be used for taking attendance both when the school is offering fully remote instruction and when the school is ready to transition to a hybrid model.
#3 Have a system in place for tracking in-person attendance versus virtual attendance
Even if your school intends to or has already reopened with fully remote learning, plan to have separate codes in place if, and when, the school returns to some form of in-person instruction. Given the vastly different nature of remote learning, the ability to distinguish between and report on the two types of attendance will help schools identify students who may require additional resources and support. Keeping your attendance system as clear as possible will help ease any confusion when in-person instruction resumes.
#4 Rely on multiple sources of information to document and verify student engagement
While the guidance on what qualifies as sufficient documentation of student engagement varies across districts and is evolving, schools should keep track of and be able to demonstrate how students and teachers are being held accountable to one another.
Some sources might include:
- Gradebook assignments and assignment scores
- Log in records and log in duration from learning platforms or student portals
- Daily logs (electronic or paper) that can be saved or stored in a student’s file
- Online polls or chat history
- Attendee logs from video or audio calls
If your school uses PowerSchool or Aeries as a student information system, you can reach out to our school data experts for ideas about how to prepare your system for the new school year.
Having a clear plan in place to monitor student attendance and engagement will help your school to collect accurate data for reporting as well as determine which students may need additional support to keep them engaged and learning. How is your school tracking student attendance and engagement? Let us know in the comment section below!
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