SMS alerts for truancy?

johnboy 10 April 2007 25

The ABC reports that Andrew Barr is flinging $20 million on IT for schools.

Aside from bringing broadband to schools, and some video conferencing gear which might allow principals to spend some time actually in their schools rather than attending endless meetings about all the meetings they’re having, there’s an attention getter:

Education Minister Andrew Barr says the system which monitors student attendance will also be upgraded.

“A new initiative will also include the attendance monitoring project, which introduces electronic roll marking,” he said.

“What this means is that if a student is absent, an SMS text message will be generated to the parents to notify them of the absence and this will communicate real-time information to parents.”

This is, it seems the dividend of slashing and burning the school system last year.

So it’s interesting to see that just a month ago the NT News reported on Palmerston High School axing their SMS truancy system because it was too hard to maintain. I shall quote at length from that article:

“The assessment found there had not been an overall improvement in attendance and it added to the workload of staff. There was a significant amount of additional work required in maintaining the mobile phone data and student data to ensure it could perform its job, like ringing the right phone numbers.

“It was also found in many instances staff needed to follow up on the SMS messages and this was, in effect, double handling. The efficiency of the system was affected by factors such as the high proportion of Defence Force families, who move at regular intervals, and the tendency for mobile phones to change ownership within families at short notice.

“Many parents also did not have mobile phones and this meant a back-up system for contacting parents was needed, imposing an additional workload on staff.

“It was too expensive to operate and maintain with running costs including upgrades, technical assistance and maintainence and call charges.”


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25 Responses to SMS alerts for truancy?
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Maelinar Maelinar 8:21 am 12 Apr 07

Why Bubzie ?

Your opportunity to stand up and ask what the hell he is doing is now gone.

It may not have been an immediately strewn with benefits concept, and could be a sore point with your peers, but I’m sure your teachers would have given you a few silent upgrades on the sly.

bubzie bubzie 7:35 am 12 Apr 07

lol, i can just imagine some random (with like one different number than my parents) getting a message saying something like ‘your child isnt at school today .etc’ 🙂
(that’d be some of the problems with the system, schools would get wrong numbers, students would put their numbers down instead..i remember our teachers telling us not to do that, lol!)

And i forgot to mention, they launched the 20 million it stuff in the classroom next to me on tuesday. Having Andrew Barr and similar walk around your school, and peer into random classes is so not fun, lol.

nyssa76 nyssa76 9:23 pm 11 Apr 07

bubzie, well it did work, perhaps they had the wrong number 🙂

I bet your parents weren’t happy with the absentee transcript attached to your report card 😉

bubzie bubzie 7:08 pm 11 Apr 07

yeah, calwell high did (still does?) that sms system in 04 at least, it didnt work then, because i wasnt at school a fair bit, and my parents never got a txt message about it!! 😀

schmerica_ schmerica_ 12:02 am 11 Apr 07

When kids walked out of classes when I was in high school, the teacher didn’t really care… they just kept on teaching.

I guess there is only so much teachers can do to keep kids in class and at school. If a kids is going to wag school or walk out of class, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to stop them. Unless we start bringing in those collars that dogs wear and when they go to leave the classroom they get a little electric shock… hehe.

I used to take notes in from my Mum when i’d missed school and half the time they didn’t ask for the note or question my absence. Maybe it was just my high school.

nyssa76 nyssa76 9:25 pm 10 Apr 07

I forgot to add, that if you aren’t happy with the truancy system, make an appointment to see either the deputy or principal to discuss your concerns.

nyssa76 nyssa76 9:24 pm 10 Apr 07

It could be gaelhope that the staff don’t have time. Many of the teachers there are working above and beyond with reliefing extras – which includes duties.

However, they should have a rolls office or a front office person that deals with the morning rolls who could call you.

If your child walks out of class the policy is to inform the executive staff who then sort the situation out by either calling home or tracking down the student first before calling home.

Truant officers went out in the late 80s/early 90s as ACTDET wanted to save money.

Students truant, or walk out of class because they know they can and that there are no real consequences.

gaelhope gaelhope 7:21 pm 10 Apr 07

Canberra High at Belconnen said they would not be able to contact me should my boy skip school or walk out of class (which I invariably find out later that he’s done). They said they are too busy for that kind of thing but might try if there’s a “real problem”.

Bring in the truant officers to pick up all the stray teenagers hanging out at the mall…

On the other hand, the schools would have more work if more kids started actually attending.

Canberra High, lift your stinking game. It’s a “real problem” now.

nyssa76 nyssa76 5:49 pm 10 Apr 07

Calwell High has had the SMS msg system since 2004.

My daughter’s school sends e-mails (work and home) and a voice message to your home phone if a child is absent, or does not sign in when late etc.

Non_Sequitur Non_Sequitur 2:10 pm 10 Apr 07

The one thing the ACT system has going for it is the central database of student information called (appropriately) MAZE. In this small system (and getting smaller everyday), it would be pretty easy for school administrators to keep an SMS system up to date. It would just require parents to keep the school informed about changes in numbers, etc. This would be better than what exists now, which is usually a cranky office worker who doesn’t really care if my little sequitur can’t be arsed getting to school that day. It would be nice to have a system!

kiwi61 kiwi61 1:02 pm 10 Apr 07

One good thing about Gold Creek High is that parents always receive a call to inform you that your child hasn’t turned up to school.
If you haven’t phoned the school in the morning to tell them of your childs absence, you will receive a call.

Absent Diane Absent Diane 12:05 pm 10 Apr 07

so the messages would be a step in a positive direction… almost like a receipt of your childs absence.

schmerica_ schmerica_ 11:40 am 10 Apr 07

Nope. At Stromlo High they send out a end of term peice of paper that shows how many absences your child has, when they were and why. Excursions are marked with an ‘E’ on the corresponding week and day ect.

Never known a school to ring up to confirm an absence – if a child is away, their away. I guess after a long series of absences they’d call.

Absent Diane Absent Diane 11:12 am 10 Apr 07

If there are several days off in succession or a pattern of absence then yes the school should ring up and discuss. If it is just a day off here and there then sms suffices. If there is additional information which the parent chooses disclose then they can ring the school.

Do schools ring for absences anyway?

VYBerlinaV8 now_with_added grunt VYBerlinaV8 now_with_added grunt 11:10 am 10 Apr 07

If set up properly, automated SMS takes far less human time, and costs less than making phone calls. It requires some human smarts to make it work, but if done properly, in steady-state operation would be simple and effective.

johnboy johnboy 10:56 am 10 Apr 07

AD, you don’t think the school might have an interest in finding out if there is a reason the child is absent?

Assuming it’s the sort of school that even knows or cares who its students are.

Absent Diane Absent Diane 10:52 am 10 Apr 07

I think it is a fantastic idea.. it would be pretty cheap and simple to set up. Surely schools have admin people who already monitor this kind of thing… why not take it a step further. I have never seen an SMS alert system fall over either.

I don’t see how a phone call can acheive anything more other than pssing people off. A lot of people get a lot of phone calls during the day and receiving a phone call to tell you what you already know would certainly piss me off. Where as an SMS is simple, takes little time and can be deleted.

So long as people don’t fck with equipment videoconferencing is also a fantastic idea.

la mente torbida la mente torbida 10:47 am 10 Apr 07

Technology for technology’s sake for crying out loud. Let’s go the whole hog and implant GPS into the kids and let parents track them through google maps. Then again, maybe a bar code or serial number tatooed onto their forearms.

louise louise 10:39 am 10 Apr 07

Today’s CT had a story on the next step for electronic roll marking. The Brits have started gathering biometric data – including fingerprints – so they can track down early signs of criminality!

With a local education department for focused on gimmicks than on people – whatever happened to actually knowing the kids and talking to their families – this type of monitoring can’t be too far away.

johnboy johnboy 10:23 am 10 Apr 07

Several big “ifs” in there.

I’m all for shiny tech toys but this seems like a situation where a phone call can achieve far, far more.

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