pilot program being implemented at Jay, Jones this August, could go district-wide
The Northside ISD will begin keeping track of its students by using Radio Frequency Identification technology, 1200 WOAI news reports.
A pilot program which was approved by the school board this week will test the technology starting with the start of the school year in August at Jay High School and Anson Jones Middle School. If it successfully cuts down on tardyism and absenteeism, it could be implemented across the district.
Executive Director of Communications Pascual Gonzalez says RFID chips will be added to the student i.d. cards which all secondary school students currently carry. The cards are used to access science labs, check books out from the library, and perform dozens of other daily tasks in the school building.
He says the RFID technology will enable the principal to track all students at all times within the walls of the school.
“If the student is not in first period class but he is in the building, then we are able to locate him, and get him into the class,” Gonzalez said.
He says if a student is not in class, that student is just as likely to be goofing off or loafing in the school building as being at home asleep.
“That child could be in the counselors office, could be in the stairwell, could be in another room at the school, could be on the patio,” he said.
Gonzalez says the RFID technology will only work within the school building itself, so there should be no privacy concerns. He says the RFID transmissions cannot be read even on the school’s athletic fields, and he says the district has no intention of attempting to track students off campus or outside of school hours.
He says there will be one exception. He says RFID readers will be placed on special needs busses, to make sure special needs students get home safely, and are accounted for throughout their journey to and from the school.
Gonzalez says this is being handled not only as a way to cut down on absenteeism, but as a way to increase state aid to education funds received by Northside. He says when students are not in their seats for First Period, they are counted as absent for the entire day, and the state does not receive per-pupil aid for those students, even if they are actually at school and attend subsequent classes. He says this system will cut down on the number of times Northside is docked for absentee students who aren’t really absent.