Let’s do some math, shall we? 3,000 students ÷ 2 campus buildings for 1 school ≈ 1 massive headache. Actually, more like a million headaches.
Flexible period/academic support time management, Behavior incident mitigation
The administrative team at Pennsbury High School in Fairless Hills, PA is responsible for 3,000 students. That equates to tens of thousands of unique student movements throughout the day, from switching classes to using restrooms to visiting different offices. Paper passes and sign-in/-out clipboards weren't enough to keep up with students' movements. Conventional passes weren't enough to ensure that students were where they needed to be when they needed to be there.
Where accountability measures were required, administrators and teachers had to comb through old passes and logs, which used up precious time and often failed to answer key questions. Hall monitors had their hands full keeping kids moving to their destinations. The consequences of these challenges? Disciplinary issues, ongoing concerns about student safety, and lost instructional time.
Michael Hermann, Educational Technology Coach for Pennsbury School District, found SmartPass and was the first to bring it to Pennsbury HS. Hermann noted two key findings during the SmartPass pilot program:
After serving 24 years as a science teacher, Hermann was well-acquainted with students' moves to avoid class time or push their limits in the hallways. So, when he became an Educational Technology Coach at the middle school level, he already knew of a way to improve how teachers managed movement without adding to their already full plates. Teenagers don’t love limits, but they need them—and SmartPass delivered. The immediate impact on hallway traffic in addition to a bit of student frustration proved that the changes were just what the middle school needed.
Hermann and the administrative team quickly noticed fewer students in the hallways during class time. Behavior incidents in hallways started to decrease, too, with fewer issues with vandalism and unsafe student behaviors. Thanks to SmartPass' reporting features, administrators save valuable time and energy determining responsibility when problems do occur.
“Some administrators were a little hesitant, a little doubtful of what it could do. But now that we have a lot of those features—Encounter Prevention, pass limits, and being able to literally call up any pass and any information right off the bat—that convinced them. Once they saw that, and they saw those features that just save them hours upon hours of time, that convinced them.”
—Michael Hermann, Educational Technology Coach, Pennsbury School District
Office administrators use SmartPass to support attendance records by creating an easily-accessible record of late-arriving students and early pick-ups. School officials use SmartPass reports to determine who is out of class during safety drills. A single report lists all students with currently-active passes, ensuring that students who are not with their classroom teacher during these events are accounted for quickly. They also use information about individual students’ time out of class in meetings with parents. Parents are on board with the program because they know their kids are where they're supposed to be.
"You not only get a better view of what's happening across the entire school. You have a much more streamlined way of managing movement across the school."
SmartPass improved Pennsbury's opportunity period. Students are maximizing this academic support time. Pass requests and room limits prevent confusion and wasted time by presenting a clear and up-to-minute view of who is available. The result? Students can't wander hallways looking for staff members or be turned away from
rooms with limited resources.
Some teachers hesitated to commit to SmartPass. Hermann notes that this is understandable, given teachers' workloads. But after pointing out SmartPass' easy-to-use interface, his teachers agree that the learning curve is easy.
Hermann advises teachers to have students be responsible for pass requests and notes the 1- touch pass approval process. When teachers ask about classroom policy logistics, Hermann says this is "no different than when they would fill out a paper pass, or no different than when [kids] would fill out a clipboard. It's the same thing."
Teachers can review pass requests when it makes sense during their instructional time, just as they would with a paper pass system. And, because the data is kept digitally, teachers save time and effort by "being able to call it up at a moment's notice.
A school culture shift. What began as a tactical approach to streamlining passes has culminated in a change in the school's culture to one of student accountability.
Teachers know that students are responsible for making pass requests. They know that students are responsible for their time out of the classroom. Administrators know that they are guiding students toward better decision-making by limiting encounters between high-flyer students during times of limited supervision.
Parents support the program because of real data about lost instructional time and fewer behavior problems. Students know that they still have the ability to go from one place to another on campus and that the expectation about actually getting to that destination will be enforced.
Clear expectations help school culture. Students feel safe when there is a perception of fairness and accountability. Teachers feel safer when their administration provides meaningful and visible support. Parents feel safer when their students are in learning spaces with supervision. And administrators feel safer when their school communities are positive spaces where everyone can focus on teaching, learning, and student success.
Smarter movement. Better outcomes. SmartPass.