Whatever It Takes

Apparently Northern Arizona University recently figured out it was important for students to attend class. So now the school has a highly technological way for teachers to take attendance. According to an article by Anne Ryman in the Arizona Republic:

Northern Arizona University will install an electronic system that detects when each student with an ID card walks through the door to some large classrooms. The system will produce an attendance report for the instructor.

NAU President John Haeger said that, along with the card readers, he will “strongly encourage” faculty to require students to attend their freshman- and sophomore-level courses. Although the university isn’t planning to implement a mandatory-attendance policy, the new technology and Haeger’s prodding likely will prompt more faculty to use attendance or class participation as part of a student’s final grade.

A card reader costs about $75,000. That’s the equivalent of the tuition for almost 10 students.

Here are some other potential solutions schools might want to consider:

1. Give random quizzes ($3.98-price of half a ream of paper)
2. Have the students sign in using a sheet of paper ($.70 -price of one piece of paper and one pen)
3. Don’t take attendance; just let the kids fail ($0)
4. Don’t hold classes before noon ($0)
5. Conduct interesting classes (not straightforwardly monetizable)

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer