[Guide] How Attendance Software Improves Your School’s Operations
CourseKey Attend does more than note a student’s presence—it streamlines your school’s operations by giving you real-time insight into student data. This guide will go over how our attendance software helps you leverage your data to improve compliance, increase retention rates, and foster a culture of accountability.
What is attendance software?
Odds are, your staff is currently using paper checklists, excel spreadsheets, and clunky equipment to track attendance. They’re spending hours per day manually entering data into your SIS—hours better spent focusing on students.
Automated attendance software isn’t just software—it’s a solution. We’re here to help you discover a new method that will holistically improve your school’s operations.
The power of automation lies in collecting student attendance data efficiently and leveraging that data to improve school outcomes. CourseKey Attend uses QR codes, ID checks, GPS, and Sound technology to prove your student was in attendance. Whether students are online, in a traditional classroom, or at an externship, automating attendance works.
Who needs attendance software?
Any school required to track student hours, pace, and progress for regulatory purposes can benefit from attendance software. Operating in a regulated environment means your data needs to have integrity, and you need timely access. Ensuring a smooth process when it’s time to report is typically an administrative nightmare, but automation takes the guesswork out of your normal procedures. From administrators to registrars to instructors to students—every level of your organization will benefit from automation.
How attendance software improves efficiency
When your school uses pen and paper, verbal roll call, or biometric scanners, your staff spends hours manually entering attendance data into the SIS— hours that could be better spent with students. In this case, efficiency is clean dashboards, real-time insight, and actionable data. The human error that comes with manual data entry inevitably leads to mistakes and inaccuracies.
The pitfalls of manual data entry
Envision your attendance sheets and grade books. If your staff is entering that data into the SIS by hand, you may be at risk of being out of compliance due to human error.
Consider this example: In a manual data entry study, 215 students received 30 datasheets containing six types of data to enter manually into a computer system. Students had to visually confirm the correctness of the data, similar to how it works with staff in many school offices.
The students made ten data entry errors on 30 datasheets. That’s a 33.3% error rate—well above the commonly accepted 1%. How would your auditor feel about a 33.3% error rate in your school’s data? Chances are, they won’t like it.
Manual data entry was the only method institutions had available for many years, but times have changed. Read more about how much manual data entry traditional attendance requires.
Along with errors, manual data entry takes even more time to make adjustments to students’ records. Your R2T4 calculations often need to be updated because attendance data isn’t accurate or available in real-time.
Technology has advanced, and your students have grown with it. Using the latest and greatest tech connects your school to its students and gives you real-time insights into student data—before you need it.
How attendance software improves compliance
Real-time insight into student data means processing data the second it’s created, helping you to know who is in attendance and who isn’t in real-time.
According to Ena, “Previously, when attendance was recorded manually, there were five, six, seven-even twenty days before we got that paper roster,” said Ena. “We were out of compliance because by the time the registrar posted the attendance sheet, we were outside of the 14-day window.”
When staff has access to real-time data they can make better-informed decisions, and take a proactive approach to compliance. When staff has access to real-time data, they can ensure that they have sound data well inside the 14-day window.
How attendance software enables schools to take a proactive approach to compliance
Compliance doesn’t have to be a burden your institution carries. Regulations are largely intended to ensure schools meet the needs of students. Your school is meeting student needs—but is it exceeding them?
Attendance software helps you take a proactive approach to compliance by giving you a holistic view of your school’s overall operations. Automation provides complete visibility into how the organization is running, including whether or not classes are conducted according to policy. It enables you to catch compliance issues before they become larger problems.
Ena Hull, COO, Legacy Education
“One of the discoveries we had when implementing CourseKey surrounded the timeliness of when classes started and ended. We didn’t have that visibility before,” Ena explained.
“With real-time attendance, we began to measure the things going on in the classroom. We quickly determined that classes were starting on time and ending on time. We could see if the instructors were meeting the program’s requirements.” With this insight into classroom activity, Ena and Legacy Education staff are able to ensure classes are running according to policy.
Use automation to identify compliance risks before they impact your next audit. Using automation to streamline current procedures helps improve student data management and overall compliance with ED.
How attendance software improves Title IV compliance
First Day of Attendance (FDA) is imperative to know as it determines how many Title IV funds your school receives at the beginning of the month. Attendance software reduces the time it takes to begin Title IV drawdown and dramatically reduces the time it takes to report.
The cost of getting students in the door is enough to turn heads, and all that money is wasted if they don’t show up. With paper attendance sheets it takes days to determine if a student made it to day one.
Every day a student attends class impacts your school’s Title IV funding. If a student receiving Title IV funds withdraws, doesn’t attend the first day, or drops a course, the school performs an R2T4 calculation.
To understand how to determine the distribution of Title IV funds between the student and the institution, read more about How Real-Time Attendance Impacts Your Financial Aid Office.
Real-time LDA with attendance software
When a student drops, schools must determine LDA to begin R2T4 calculations. If you’re taking attendance on paper sheets or waiting for instructors to enter time into the SIS, you may not have a true picture of LDA until days, or even weeks, after the last day actually occurred. Your R2T4 calculations are delayed before they’ve even begun.
Real-time LDA in action: How Unitek Reduced Late R2T4 Calculations
Ena told us, “It allows us to capture attendance in an electronic format fed directly into our SIS. We can determine if the student is actively engaged in our program and participating.”
How attendance software improves retention
The average retention rate for a public, 2-year institution in 2019 was 63%, while private, for-profit institutions hovered around a 68% average. Improving retention rates even just a few percentage points could have a strong impact on your bottom line, reputation, and graduation rates. The best way to increase retention rates is to identify and intervene with at-risk students much faster, which is only possible through real-time attendance data.
Your institution may have a system to identify at-risk students, but delays in data make it difficult to implement solutions—solutions that could be implemented before the problem becomes much more serious.
Ena implemented CourseKey’s automated software to gain access to student attendance data in real time—enabling staff to intervene faster and keep more students on track to graduate. “Early intervention is absolutely critical,” said Ena. “Just by a student showing up to class, they are 50% more likely to succeed in the program.”
Getting students back in the classroom means identifying their absences sooner. By eliminating manual data entry and replacing it with real-time attendance software, your staff can act faster to boost retention rates.
Supporting students with attendance software
Your students are mobile and your software should be too. When students have access to their attendance, grades, and course materials from their phones they have the tools they need to make informed decisions that promote progress towards graduation.
Chad Jove, Student, High Desert Medical College
“Mobile attendance software definitely takes the accountability and puts it back on the student. It focuses them on their time and the course. They can go back and see what days they’ve missed and see what work they have to make back up.” said Brian Scott, an instructor with Bellus Academy.
Keeping students engaged with their coursework and updated on their progress doesn’t have to be a constant back and forth. Implementing a mobile attendance solution gives students the progress updates they want 24/7 with the touch of a button, increasing engagement and nurturing accountability.
Supporting staff ultimately supports students
Brian Scott, Instructor, Bellus Academy
Research proves that when instructors are better supported by administrators, they can better support students—nurturing student accountability.
Assisting your staff in fostering student accountability doesn’t stop at providing more tools.
Removing the burden of attendance management from instructors gives them more time back to focus on what they love: helping students succeed. Instructors are happier and students benefit from a higher quality education.
What CourseKey partner institutions are saying
Ena and Damon have one thing in common: they implemented CourseKey’s attendance software to improve outcomes at their schools. It’s not just about purchasing software. Implementing an automated attendance solution is about transforming traditional attendance methods that prevent so many schools and students from reaching their full potential.
“CourseKey specifically allowed me a smoother way to do enrollment management,” Damon said. “Graduation, attendance, and participation rates are all positive.”
Ena said, “If we cannot demonstrate that we’ve done well [reporting], it shows we have a lack of administrative capability, and the CourseKey solution has allowed us to close that gap quickly and strengthen us so we can scale and continue to grow to the level we have.”