Taking Attendance in Online and Blended Schools
In a traditional bricks-and-mortar school, attendance is usually tracked when a student says “here” after hearing his or her name during roll call. If the teacher can validate the student’s physical presence, attendance credit is most likely received without additional obligation.
So how is attendance monitored in an online or blended school when a student is not physically present? Simply “showing up” for a virtual course is not enough to earn attendance. Attendance in our online and blended schools is determined by various factors that reflect your student’s overall progress and academic development.
Online School Attendance
How is attendance determined in virtual school?
- Verification of physical existence —Is the student real?
- Evidence of recent activity —Is the school seeing evidence of recent student participation?
- Learning Coach–reported hours of attendance —Will the student have the state-required number of attendance hours/days by year’s end?
- Pacing toward completion by the end of the year —Will the student complete the assigned curriculum in the appropriate amount of time?
Verification of physical existence
Despite the fact that teachers are not able to see your student sitting in a real-time classroom, they still need to verify that he or she is present within the virtual classroom. Physical existence is measured by logged contacts with the school. For instance, each time the student communicates with the school, the conversation is documented and logged in the system. The school also looks at the time between the present day and the most recent synchronous contact, such as a phone call, that they’ve had with the student. This is one of the only methods of attendance monitoring that can be initiated at the school.
Evidence of recent activity
To track recent activity, teachers look at the student’s last completed lesson and assessment, and the time between the present day and the most recent tracked action. The last login date is not included in the teacher’s track record because the learning management system allows Learning Coaches to access course content on behalf of their student. Thus, merely logging in does not accurately reflect a student’s attendance.
Learning Coach–reported hours of attendance
One of the most important factors in tracking attendance is the logged daily learning hours from a student’s Learning Coach. If a Learning Coach is not reporting enough hours to satisfy the state’s requirement, the student’s attendance record could suffer significantly. Since the hours cannot be changed once they are entered, the Learning Coach should make sure to tally them up correctly. Teachers have the option to edit the hours if they believe that the student has not sufficiently participated. These self-reported and school-verified hours of attendance are key aspects in determining attendance and absence.
Pacing toward completion by the end of the school year
Maintaining a suitable learning pace is regulated by the student and his or her Learning Coach. Although taking online courses allows students to work at their own pace, the school still expects all assignments and lessons to be completed by the end of the school year. In order for students to finish on time without rushing, they should work at an appropriate pace on a daily basis.
To accurately determine your student’s pace, use the equation provided below.
For example, in Arizona, high school students need 1,080 hours of attendance, or 6 hours per day. If a student logged 270 attendance hours during the first 45 days of the school year, the result would be the ideal percentage value of 1; if a student took one week off and logged 240 attendance hours, the result would be a pretty manageable percentage value of .89. A student with fewer than 200 logged hours in this case could fall behind and might have to resort to cramming.
Blended School Attendance
Since our blended high school students spend four days a week on Nexus Academy campuses receiving face-to-face lessons from teachers in addition to online courses, attendance is monitored a bit differently than in full-time online school.
How is attendance determined?
- Physical attendance—Taken daily by the student’s Success Coach
- Participation screening and schedule—Beneficial for the utmost success of the student
Physical presence is tracked heavily in Nexus Academy to ensure that the student is successful and ready to advance to the next grade level when the time comes. As is the case for a Learning Coach, a Success Coach is responsible for logging his or her student’s daily learning hours, including time spent on-site and off-site. Success Coaches are also responsible for checking in with their students on a weekly basis, which is incorporated in the hourly log as well.
Participation screening and schedule
During the first 40-minute block of each in-person session, students convene for an advisory period where a Success Coach leads a learning activity to foster collaboration and teamwork. This advisory period accounts for 5 percent of the student’s English participation grade. Nexus Academy requires 50 percent of learning hours to be completed on-site, but it does offer flexibility in scheduling for students who are involved in sports or other after-school activities.
Even though online and blended school students are not always physically present, remaining proactive in daily learning responsibilities is an essential part of student accountability and academic growth. What are some ways you help your student uphold an accurate attendance representation?