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Attendance tracking the key to student success?

Today’s college student has a wealth of technological advantages that can make their lives easier. But for all the resources made available to them, some students still fall short of the mark in classroom attendance.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, skipping class remains the single most convincing link to poor academic performance, and universities are taking notice. More and more institutions are turning to mandatory attendance policies and are leveraging tracking software to enforce them.

The pressure to increase student retention and graduation rates is ever present. The financial burden of skipping classes, and in turn dropping out, along with the subsequent student debt has inspired a demand for more accountability in student attendance. This accountability is, in part, coming in the form of retention alert systems that monitor behaviors that can lead to dropping out, in particular skipping class.

One of the resources available to universities interested in monitoring attendance is Class120, a $199/year notification service that tracks students via geo-fencing and the GPS capabilities of their smartphone. The app then alerts a student’s parents or another designated party in real time if the student is not within a geo-fenced area around the classroom they are scheduled to be.

To date, Core Principle — the company behind the Class120 app — has mapped some 2,000 campuses nationwide.

While attendance has long been left to the professor’s roll call, the technology now exists to make the attendance process simple and more efficient. But the question remains, is it the university’s responsibility to ensure that students make it to class, or should a student’s success hinge upon their own endeavor? The debate will undoubtedly be two sided. For now, however, apps like Class120 and the advancement of more sophisticated student ID cards will provide the means to monitor student attendance.

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