Brief Proposes Alternatives to Seat Time as a Measure of Student Learning
- By Dian Schaffhauser
"seat time" really the optimal way to measure attendance
during a pandemic? There are better alternatives, according to a new
brief from the Aurora
(formerly iNACOL). The nonprofit advocates for "breakthrough
policies" in K-12 education, including promoting
competency-based education, which promotes a shift away from
classroom time as an indicator of academic growth and towards showing
mastery of concepts as a replacement.
Attendance and Alternatives to Seat-Time,"
the authors have proposed that districts take advantage of COVID-19
to revisit "old-fangled" policies regarding attendance.
Instead of measuring attendance based on the number of hours students
spend "in" the classroom, which has no meaning when school
is delivered remotely, they could be using alternatives such as:
key to success will probably start at the state level, however, since
attendance policies are often locked into place by law.
the report noted, "Developing simple counts of student
attendance during COVID-19 school closures may be less educationally
meaningful than investing in strategies that boost student
motivation, thereby increasing engagement." One way to boost
student engagement, the authors suggested, is to have advisors (not
just teachers but staff as well) call every student daily to check in
on academic progress and find out how he or she is doing otherwise.
brief has profiled 10 approaches for creating attendance policies in
as many states. Oregon law, as an example, lets districts allow
students to show mastery in several ways (completing classroom work,
passing an exam, providing a portfolio of work showing proficiency or
providing documentation of learning activities and experiences that
show proficiency). New York law uses similar techniques as well as
student participation in online forums or phone calls.
eight-page brief is openly available on
the Aurora Institute website.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.