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Attendance Experiment at CHS

This past week, various CHS teachers volunteered to test out a new alternative system to taking attendance every day called “Positive Attendance.” Rather than teachers silently looking about the class each period to mark those who are absent on their computers, the district decided to test out having students put their number into a computer system as they come into class.

Emma Hahn

CWI teacher Mr. Eric Linthwaite was one teacher that volunteered to test run the new attendance system. “Occasionally I mark people who are present, absent because they’ve left the room or moved to a different seat or I’m just plain dumb. In theory, this will prevent that,” Linthwaite says.

One teacher got the opportunity to use a scanner instead of students putting their student ID numbers into the computer, by using the barcode on a students ID card. CHS biology and history teacher Mr. Cory Marshall was able to provide students with a potentially more efficient way of putting their numbers into the attendance system. Marshall says, “[The] Scanner was way easier, if it worked. If it didn’t, we had to enter it in by hand anyway.”

“At first I thought it might have some efficient advantages, but it ended up being more work (even if all students could successfully scan) because you also had to confirm each scan by hitting the mouse,” Marshall adds. “Prairie high school does and loves it, so clearly it’s a system that can work. For Camas right now, in its current form the old way is much simpler, efficient, and accurate than this new positive attendance program. But that’s why we do pilot programs. You’ll never find a system that works better if you never try new ones.”

The attendance office and the teachers worked hand in hand with each other. The students were put directly into the attendance system once they typed in their number into a computer or used the scanner to say that they were present that day. Although in theory, this seems like it “will yield more accurate attendance data,” this was problematic for the attendance office. Students were being marked absent for classes where the new system wasn’t being tested. “For example, it’s a second-period teacher, and they [parents] see an absence marked in fifth period and they’re like what is this and why is my kid being marked absent. So that’s where we got a lot of emails and phone calls from people saying what is this all about?” Mrs. Earleen Martin explains. “They didn’t have a pre-warning that this was coming. I think that if they would have know what to look for, it wouldn’t have been a problem.”

Students decided that this new system has lots of issues that need to be resolved before trying again. “It’s slower and you can’t start class, you actually have to like go and do something first before you can sit down and start working on your stuff,” Senior Adam Anderson says. “Students have to take more responsibility for their schooling. They have to actually get up and sign in themselves instead of relying on the teacher to do so,” Senior Anureet Dhillon says.

The administrator in charge, Mr. Brian Wilde, has many reasons as to why he decided to try the new system out. “Positive Attendance allows us to think creatively about smart Student ID cards, which provide access to classrooms and the building, and reduce the opportunity of incorrect attendance recording or when a student is tardy vs. absent. We also see great potential for its use with MakerTime, and being an efficient way for students to identify where they go for support during this part of the school day,” Wilde explains.

With some things to work out and fix, this new system may be the start of a faster alternative to the way CHS does things now. For now students, staff, and admin will stick to the original system until it is decided that it can be used in a way that it reaches admins goals, and does what it is supposed to.

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