Let’s face it, school security, let alone the culture has changed over the years. As time passed, so did the need for different forms of technology to help support school security processes and create a positive climate necessary for learning. Typically in the past, schools would upgrade their technology when necessary, such as after a catalyst event would occur. This is a reactive approach and does not help solve the problem ahead of time. In order to properly increase your school security processes and make a positive impact on your school, one needs to take a proactive approach with smart technology, not the other way around. Student safety is first and foremost.
According to multiple reports, the education field can become one of the most data-driven sectors in the United States. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an international education policy agency suggests that improved streamlining processes are needed to both track student processes, as well as utilizing data with data-driven reports to make recommendations for performance objectives in school safety, climate, and culture.
It can be difficult to raise school funding for increased security processes. In the past, funding was limited to specific needs that were approved by the government, but in today’s era, there is a lot more funding available for school’s to capitalize on. To help increase the chances of receiving proper funding for school security processes, it’s important to understand the benefits of utilizing technology. When able to track and measure specific data sets that occur every day a school is in session is crucial to a successful impact.
In this eBook, we will be discussing the importance of school security processes and how smart technology can help improve your school’s needs. Knowing what it takes to make a positive impact on school safety, climate, and culture is critical for a school to flourish now and for the future.
Where does one start when a school is faced with chronic absenteeism, student behavioral problems, and acts of violence for starters? How can one create a measurable approach to solving these problems? Creating a safe and welcoming environment for students should be the base of your solution and driving force in understanding how to tackle these issues your school may face.
The first step in creating a measurable process for school security is to understand the types of data sets you need surrounding each issue your school is facing. This is where smart technology comes into play and couple possibly save the day. Smart technology can help with creating powerful data-driven reports so that school officials can make better decisions surrounding their issue. Since we live in a technological world, if a school is not able to utilize their information in a clear and organized process, then that school is missing out on a major opportunity for improvement and funding.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, chronically-absent students – or those who miss more than 15 days in a school year – are more likely to do more poorly in school than their regularly-attending peers. Sadly, chronic absenteeism is anything but irregular; around 14 percent of K-12 students, or about one in seven students, miss that many days in school each year. These are tough numbers to digest. There are many reasons why a student will miss school. For some, it could be bullying, for others, something may be going on at home, or pressures from others. It’s the school’s job to help solve this problem and track student attendance properly so that students may succeed in school.
Traditional attendance tracking has been a manual process since the beginning. This process leaves a lot of room for error and is not always trackable. It presents more pressure on the teachers and can lead to less accountability from the students and teachers. Pen and paper tracking is a thing of the past and even manual data entry into a computer takes time and energy. Once you add building access to this problem, you just added the cherry on top. Building access is more important than ever before among school grounds. Before, schools were generally “open” campuses, allowing students and staff to enter and leave at will. Building access was available for after hour study sessions, etc… Unfortunately, this has been abused over time and school officials need to know who is in what building at what time in case of an emergency. This is now necessary information for school officials to capture due to the demand of population and safety.
A proactive solution to this little yet, big problem is to utilize smart technology such as smart ID cards. Smart ID cards are a form of identification with an embedded chip inside that is provided to reoccurring students and staff. It’s hard to track attendance as it is, but with smart ID cards, students can enter their classroom and tap the card readers to mark themselves present. If they are late or absent, the system connected to your smart ID cards will notify the appropriate caretaker of the student so that proper actions can be taken. When students are given smart ID cards, they are also able to enter buildings based on their need. If a student does not need to be in a specific building, the reader will deny access to the student if they tap their smart ID cards. This could possibly be the future of identification with schools because of the multitude of benefits it creates with attendance, safety, and culture.
Knowing who is on your campus at what time is a very valuable piece of knowledge for school officials know in case of an emergency. In the past, especially when schools had an “open campus” policy, almost anyone could walk on school grounds for a visit, or to just walk around. This can be alarming to many parents because it can create a sense of paranoia that their students may not be safe. The climate and culture of the school are affected by this dilemma. Climate and culture are two very important factors to consider when making any decision for your school and students.
Typically when a new visitor approaches and wanted to enter the school grounds, they are tracked by a simple sign-in sheet in the front desk. This really doesn’t give enough information on who the visitor really is and their background. Simple questions are asked such as “who are you here to see?”, or “can you please enter your information here.” These common interactions do not give us the valuable data necessary for when an incident may occur. Another question to ask yourself is how is this information being tracked? How is this information being stored? If you have to look back to a specific date where someone entered the school grounds, is that information easily accessed? These are a few questions you should ask yourself before looking into solutions.
One solution that utilizes smart technology is called a visitor management system. This is a system that is pretty self-explanatory but opens a multitude of opportunities to increase your school safety process. Instead of relying on your administration staff to ensure the visitor and their information is being tracked efficiently, a visitor management system will do that for you. Typically, schools will have one entry point for their campus to make it easier to manage new visitors. When a new visitor approaches the proper entry point, they will be required to scan their driver’s license or state-wide Identification card. The system will automatically scan the information of the new visitor and match it to a registered sex-offender database. If there is a match, then the administrator will be notified immediately and can flag the new visitor to not enter the building. Another plus of a visitor management system is that information will always be saved in case a potential risk visitor comes back again.
Student behavior shapes the culture and climate of your school. It can help motivate classmates on one hand or discourage on the other. It can be hard to gauge when a student is in need of help. When students do not receive the proper attention they need when faced with internal issues, those students can become at-risk to others around them as well as posing a threat to your school. Now knowing this fact, does your school have a procedure in place to address this dilemma?
The psychology of a student can be very complex, thus leading to their actions as well. Active shooters are typically not from external sources as much as from internal. For example, bullying is a large factor that affects students to act out. Aside from bullying, students may face problems at home or outside of school, let alone inside. There is a multitude of scenarios that can affect a student’s behavior, so how do we address student behavioral problems?
Having a positive school climate will have a chain reaction to opening up more opportunity for students to have a successful education and promote safety throughout your school. There is one way to track and measure student behavior. When a school is able to utilize an Alternative Behavior Educator (ABE), the counselor, or school official will be able to collect, track and measure key information on a student. It helps create one centralized location where all the information is stored for each student. The information can be accessed easily and at any point, a teacher or counselor may view the student’s record. An Alternative Behavior Educator will help students get back on the road to success with a special intervention that has a reward system as well. This is a powerful tool to utilize for school’s because the positives outweigh the negatives by a landslide.
Today, data helps drive a lot of big decisions when it comes to any industry. The education industry needs a little bit of a pick-me-up when it comes to utilizing technology. There are many pros and cons when it comes to finding the right piece of technology for your school, but one thing should always be considered when searching for the right fit and that’s data centralization. When your sensitive data is centralized, you don’t have to worry about logging into multiple platforms for specific key points. This saves you and many others time searching for the right piece of information. Time is highly valued within school grounds, so best practices are to utilize that time to the fullest.
As we mentioned prior, data helps drive important decisions surrounding your school. Whether you’re in need of monitoring student attendance, scanning and tracking new visitors onto your campus, or attempting to aid student behavioral issues, centralized data and data-driven reports are the foundation to your solution. When implementing smart technology, you’re not just aiming for short-term changes, but for long-term as well. As you accumulate data over time, you will then be able to see specific patterns that will shape your decisions for the better.
Creating a solid strategy is one of the most important benefits of interpreting your data-driven reports. This is why centralizing your data is the foundation of your changes for improvement. You will then be able to set goals for yourself and create a standard for students to uphold. For example, when a student is late for school multiple times, he is then held accountable for not using his smart ID card and the school will have collected enough data to see a specific pattern that might lead to why the student is missing school. Another great example is when a student is having behavioral issues, multiple teachers could pull up their file, quick and easy, no matter how many hands have been on it. This helps the right official to aid students without backtracking and capitalize on the most current key performance indicators.