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The Attendance System

The attendance system is based around tracking student absences, since there should be fewer of them than presences. An attendance record is stored for a student only when they are absent (or late) from school. No record is stored when they are present. This is the easiest approach in terms of record entry. This system is also designed to accomodate the problems of K-12 schools that may have different attendance periods per day for different grades. ( K-6 may have 2 attendance periods per day (Morning and Afternoon) while 7-12 have 6 periods per day, that correspond to teaching periods ).

The attendance record contains:

Since elementary schools normally don't have subject based attendance, the subject field in their records will be blank. Only subject based attendance methods normally used in high schools fill in this field.

Attendance Entry Methods

Depending on the school, attendance may be entered by the secretary or by the teachers, or possibly, both.

On the main admin site, the single date method is designed for missing teacher entry of attendance since the secretary is entering attendance for the entire school rather than a particular homeroom or subject (which is the normal teacher approach).

The best approach to attendance entry depends on the school. I have tried to provide a rich enough set of methods to cater to all needs.

Attendance Entry - Admin

There are two general types of attendance entry. One is a single day entry system with a variety of methods and the other is a multiple day entry system.

The first system, called New Attendance Entry, has several methods for entering attendance. They include:

  1. Grade - One, several, or all grades may have attendance entered using this method. Leave blank for all grades or put in a space separated list of grades to enter their attendance for the day.

  2. Homeroom - This method will have buttons for all homeroom teachers, so that you can enter attendance for them. Typically for when they are away.

  3. Subject - This method will have buttons for all subject based teacher attendance entry. Click for attendance entry for that teacher.

The second attendance entry approach, Multiple Day Attendance entry, is used to enter attendance on a weekly or biweekly basis. This is normally done in smaller elementary schools where each teacher is effectively in charge of attendance entry. They will fill in a weekly or biweekly form and then the secretary keys in this information. This method is designed for this kind of entry.

In order to select a smaller grouping of students (rather than the entire student body), selection may be based on Class (Homeroom) or Grade. If this is the approach, then the particular Class or Grade should be entered in the input form after Class/Grade and the correct group type (Class or Grade) selected from the menu. Otherwise, if left empty, all students in the school will be displayed. The type of entry method may be selected to be either weekly or biweekly.

Once entered, the periods missed by students may be clicked (selected). Previous or the Next Week may be chosen by clicking the appropriate button. The next screen will allow selecting the reason for the absence.

Check Teacher Attendance - When attendance is done by teachers on a daily basis (or several times per day), a method is required to make sure all attendance has been entered by teachers before reports are generated since we have to track absences and a missing absence due to a teacher not filling this in would mean that the student was present.

One of the fields in the staff screen (on EOY page) is Does Attendance. For all teachers that have this field set to Yes, this program checks to make sure that they have entered an attendance record for today. If there is perfect attendance, a blank entry (no one selected), should still be made to create a Teacher Did the Attendance entry (which is stored in a different table than normal student attendance).

This script will also display the time as well as the date of the attendance entry (in case of multiple required entries per day).

Attendance Editing - Admin

This section has options to edit or delete existing attendance records. These include:

Attendance Scanning & Discipline Form Letters

Every attendance reason can be assigned a point value in the configuration file and when the points accumulate to certain trigger values a discipline event may be recorded and form letters may be automatically generated. For example, an unexcused absence might be 3 points while an unexcused late might be 1 point. Other reasons could be set to 0. When points accumulate to configured values (ie. 20), a letter might go home to the parents. The settings would be set based on school policy.

The settings for these points and trigger values and their matching discipline events is set in the main configuration file (admin.conf). These can be seen from the Eoy page using the View Configuration files button.

The attendance scanning script ( (Attendance Scan button in middle column of attendance page) scans a date range and adds up the points in that range. (ie. today or this week, etc). It then compares this to previous points totals and looks for any values that would go over a trigger point.

These triggered events generate a check box selection so that the attendance officer may select (possibly all) students for discpline action. When selected and submitted, a discipline entry is created and form letters are also generated for printing, signing, and mailing. These form letters are based on templates that may be edited by your system administrator.

Student Attendance Reports

The first report, called the Daily Attendance Report, will report on all students absent on the selected date, and generate some cumulative attendance (and discipline) records. This attempts to try to give a snapshot of this student, so that administrators can pick out any growing attendance problems (particularly combined with discipline issues).

The second report, called the Check Student Days is also useful in tracking students with problem attendance. One it day is the largest periods per day defined for any grade. The starting and ending dates should be in yymmdd format (as indicated). It checks for students exceeding a certain number of days in a given date range. (as perhaps set out by policy). The monthly attendance report might, in most cases, be a better solution. But it depends on the school and its attendance policies.

Subject Based Attendance

For high schools, attendance is usually tracked also on a per subject basis. The following two reports are used to track this:

  1. Student - displays all the classes missed sorted by subject.
  2. Subject - displays a listing by class, with student and number of classes missed.

Other Attendance Reports

Attendance Phone List - a phone list report for those students missing on that day. Used by people responsible for attendance checking (ie. attendance officer).

View Attendance Records - a report that can view student attendance records by student number, date range, or class. The student number version will show the attendance records for withdrawn students. It includes phone numbers for the student. Clicking on the student name will show all attendance records of that student.

Monthly/Term Reports

Monthly Attendance Report - will report on student attendance for the month. One version prints a web based report, while the other outputs a pdf (Adobe Acrobat) report more suitable for printing. The web report will highlight withdrawn students in red. Both reports categorize attendance into 5 categories: Absent Unexcused, Absent Excused, Absent Other, Late Unexcused, and Late Excused. The Absent Other category is a catch all for all categories of Absent Something or Other that the school has added.

It produces a listing including Days Enrolled and Days Attended, and percentage stats for the categories listed above. It allows grouping of students by Class or Grade. It produces a listing of grand totals at the bottom of the report (with a link at the top to jump directly to those totals).

Attendance Profiles & Other Reports

The attendance profile is a comprehensive report that draws data from the attendance table as well as the transfer table (for enrollments and withdrawals) and summarizes this information on one (or more) pages. It will report on all students, including withdrawn students. Other reports normally don't report this . This kind of attendance report may be used by schools not using the report card system, but would like to include attendance information to parents and guardians. It is designed for printing since it is a PDF (Adobe Acrobat) report. Normally the date range chosen for reporting would be the range of dates for the current report card period (ie. term).

The report card attendance information includes attendance information in terms of days missed (absences and lates). It will also report on periods missing for subject attendance). It does not include transfer (enroll/withdraw) information. As a result, the attendance profile is a more comprehensive source for attendance information. The Parent Online parent site also provides comprehensive attendance information (as well as gradebook and report card marks).

The Ethnic Attendance Report categorizes attendance records on the basis of the ethnic field of the students. It is a summary report and includes Students Enrolled in the date range chosen, Student-Days Absent, Student-Days Enrolled and Percentage Attendance (for each ethnic group).

The Perfect Attendance Check finds all students who have perfect attendance in a particular date range (and will ignore certain attendance reasons, if set).

The Year End Attendance Report is a PDF report similar to the Attendance Profiles, but created in a more compact format for longer term storage, etc. It contains all information on attendance for the year for the school.

Attendance Information Storage - Technical

The Attend table is the primary table that stores information about attendance, the periods missed by students. If there are two periods per day (am/pm), and the student missed the entire day, then there are two records added to the table. A 6 period day would result in 6 records added if the student missed all day.

The attendance table (attend) has the following fields:

  1. Studnum - the local student number of the missing student. (called studid in this table... a mistake). The student number (studnum) field in the student table links the student name, etc. directly to the attendance record by this field.

  2. Absdate - the date of the absence (or late). The reason, below, will outline the reason for the absence or late. Like all stored dates, this is in ISO 8601 standard year-month-day format (most significant to least).

  3. Period - the period of the absence. For a 1 period school day, this would be all day. For a two period day, this would be morning or afternoon, (1 or 2). The periods per day for each grade are stored in the master configuration file (admin.conf). In a K-12 school, the elementary students may be using a 2 period day (AM/PM) while the high school uses a 5 or 6 period day. As a result, when an elementary student is absent all day, only 2 records are stored. If a high school student on a 6 period day is missing all day, 6 records are stored.

  4. Subject-section - for schools doing subject based attendance entry, this is the subject-section code of the period missed. (ie. 8514-1) This will allow tracking of classes missed in any particular class (ie.subject-section).

  5. Reason - the reason for the absence or late. The reasons are stored in the master configuration file (admin.conf) also. The reason should include the text it Absent at the start in order for some of the programs to correctly count the number of absences (for whatever reason). The same is true for the Late reasons. Only the reasons located in the configuration file may be entered since they are chosen from a selection list. A smaller list rather than a larger one may be better, since each must have some sort of justification in policy.

    The Absent reasons can be classified into several categories (and are printed this way in the monthly attendance reports):

    1. Absent Unexcused - self explanatory.
    2. Absent Medical, Absent Illness, Absent Cultural - excused absences for particular reasons (and that need tracking)
    3. Absent Excused - an excused absence with no particular need to be tracked for a reason. (ie. Cows got out and had to go get them...)

    The Late reasons are not categorized other than being excused or unexcused (although, of course, this may be changed).

  6. >ate - a numeric field storing, normally, the number of minutes late. This is currently not stored by any of the entry methods (due to lack of interest). However, the field does exist.

Other Table Structures

Open Admin has, besides the attend table, the following tables supporting attendance:

tattend table - A table to make sure teachers have entered their attendance. A single record is added every time a teacher adds attendance records (to the attend table). The office can then tell that all attendance has been entered for the day (or portion of the day), and that attendance reports can be run.

The fields of this table include:

If the teacher is entering attendance for a previous day, the system will add that as the date, and place a 0:00 time for that day. This will make it easier to follow what dates have been entered for elementary attendance (where teachers are responsible for their own attendance in many cases).

Teacher Attendance Entry requires support from the staff table) to indicate which teachers are actually responsible for entering attendance. There are a couple of important fields:

next up previous contents
Next: Teacher Attendance Up: Open Administration for Schools Previous: Student Demographics