By: Paul Langhorst, SchoolReach Chief Marketing Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Taking attendance and notifying parents of unexcused absences has been a dreaded daily ritual for school administrators since the very first school day. Great strides have been made on the "taking" side, with advances in school information software allowing attendance to be recorded and tabulated with point-and-click ease. But only recently have significant advances been made on the notification side. These advances have freed school administrators from hours and hours of laborious calling to chase down unexcused absences. While at the same time, these advances have improved safety by making parents aware of absences sooner and have given parents immediate response options.
Prior to these advances, the process of reaching out to parents of students with unexcused absences had been an extremely manual task. Most initial contact attempts ended in no answers or voice mail messages. When parents did call back they often had to leave yet another message. The notification process often could take all morning. It was a vicious cycle and a time-consuming, expensive game of phone tag.
New absentee notification services, like EZ Attendance from SchoolReach, solve this problem by fully automating the process on both ends. The process starts with a daily import of unexcused absence records. Once received, automation takes over and a recorded message is sent to parents' home, work and/or cell numbers notifying them of the unexcused absence. Upon receipt of the call, the more advanced services also allow parents the ability to interact with the notification by leaving a recorded message back to the school. The parents' replies are converted to computer audio (.wav) files and delivered to the attendance secretaries email inbox. There, the recordings can be played, saved and forwarded as needed. In one automated call, complete communication is achieved enabling the notification and update process to be completed in minutes not hours.
The Results: Increased Attendance, Savings and Increased Satisfaction. The impact of automating the daily attendance notification process can be dramatic. The unexcused rate can be reduced by as much a half. This leads to increased attendance and increased state funding. Research suggests that the automation process saves about 3 hours per day by eliminating manual call attempts-equal to $50/day in labor expense or nearly $10,000/building over the course of the school year. Ultimately, there are two groups with increased satisfaction: both parents and staff. You will see an immediate increase in job satisfaction on the part of the school attendance secretary and you will hear many positive comments from parents telling of their appreciation of the thoroughness and timeliness of the process.
Greater adherence to regular school schedules improves the learning environment for the entire school and for the students on an individual basis. Increased attendance translates to increased achievement. If your school or district is being forced to do more with less, automating your absentee notification process is a low cost fix with a big impact.