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Aurora Institute

Issue Brief

Determining Attendance and Alternatives to Seat-Time

Author(s): Susan Patrick, Alexis Chambers

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Attendance looks dramatically different in the COVID-19 era. Many states and districts have sent us requests to support the alignment of policy with a more innovative imagining of attendance that moves away from the old-fangled definition based on seat-time. We’ve responded with a new offering for the field, Determining Attendance and Alternatives to Seat-Time.

While COVID-19 offers numerous opportunities to advance systems change and free K-12 of its limiting factory-model structures, schools and districts are grappling with very real and present issues in ensuring students can access learning and progress along their learning journey. Our analysis shows that states can best remedy this issue by allowing the flexibility of districts and schools to develop an attendance policy using a combination of options. These options include, but are not limited to:

 Time on task (can include engagement);

  • Participation; 
  • Evidence of student work; and
  • Competency-based attainment with demonstrations of building skills, competencies, and knowledge.

The issue brief contains 10 examples for creating attendance policies for learning remotely, including competency-based attainment. In addition, we offer policies from four states using seat-time alternatives as one of many policies to advance toward personalized, competency-based education.