Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)
ACLS Attendance Data Entry Policy Clarification
January 8, 2010
Dear Program Directors,
Recently, it has come to my attention that the standard for entering student attendance in SMARTT may vary somewhat from program to program. For Massachusetts data to be meaningful on a statewide and national basis, it is critical that data collection procedures are standardized across the state; that is, the data must be defined and collected in the same way by all programs to make it comparable. While a local program may have unique policies for attendance requirements, excused and unexcused absences, consequences and exceptions, the data that each program enters into SMARTT must be consistent across the state. The purpose of this memo is to clarify the definition of attendance, for the purposes of entering attendance into SMARTT.
Attendance is defined as: that time that a student is physically present in the classroom on the date and at the time that the class occurs.
For example, if a class is scheduled from 6:00 to 8:00 pm on Wednesday, January, 6, and the class is held at that time, attendance may be entered only for those students actually present in the classroom at that time. If a student misses the class, and comes in to the program for makeup work at a different time, or completes some work on-line, that student must not be marked as "present" on the date and time the class occurred. A student who makes up work for a class missed must not be entered as present in the class that s/he missed.
If, however, the entire January 6 class is cancelled due to weather or other reason, and the entire class is rescheduled for Friday January 8, attendance for all students present on that date may be entered for January 8 - the actual date on which students were "physically present in the classroom".
Local programs may and do have their own policies regarding how many absences are allowed before a seat is made available to a person waiting for service; these local policies often distinguish between "excused" and "unexcused" absences. These are local decisions. A program may choose to enter "excused hours" in SMARTT if the program wishes to track this data for its own purposes; however, ACL does not use this information, and "excused hours" will not count toward attendance or average attended hours. For more information about entering "excused hours," please refer to the SMARTT 3 Manual - 2/09
I know that you are concerned about the impact on ongoing learning when students need to "stop out" for a class, or for a more extended period of time. At ACLS, we sometimes hear about strategies programs are using to support "stopped out" students; here are some promising practices we have seen:
- Some programs assign a "buddies"; when a student is absent, the "buddy" is responsible for gathering handouts and communicating by telephone. (This is generally an optional practice, since not everyone is willing to share their phone numbers with other students.)
- Some provide students with a volunteer when they return from an absence, to go over material that was covered in classes the student missed.
- Some teachers use email to communicate with absent students about assignments that can be done outside of the classroom, and some offer to meet with students before or after class.
- Some programs have set up a website where teachers post weekly assignments, and students can log-onto check what they missed.
If you have any questions about the information in this memo, please contact your program specialist. Thank you in advance for your cooperation to ensure that the data we rely on to inform the continuous improvement of services to our state's adult learners are a true reflection of what is really happening in our classrooms and programs.
With Literacy in Mind,
State Adult Education Director