The Ministry of Education was seeking a comprehensive system to identity, manage and monitor referrals for unjustified student absences. This was all part of a commitment to improving retention and engagement in learning,
Sustained truancy has long been linked with youth offending and can lead to significantly reduced opportunities later in life. Student disengagement often starts with being late, followed by missing classes and then an entire day – until it escalates into absences of several days or weeks.
The Ministry of Education was seeking a comprehensive system to identity, manage and monitor school referrals to a specialist Attendance Service for students with unjustified absences. This would also be a supportive part of the Ministry’s commitment to providing Better Public Services.
But data from more than 2,000 schools was held by multiple agencies in spreadsheets or outdated databases – highlighting the need to compile all information in one place.
New Zealand law specifies that school-aged children are to be enrolled in education, so the Ministry also required comprehensive data on non-enrolled students.
To meet this need, the Assura team worked with the Ministry to carefully review the existing systems. Optimised workflows for both truancy and non-enrolment were established as part of what would become the new Attendance Service Application (ASA) system.
Key processes such as raising referrals were automated, and all data is now captured in an interactive database for ease of collation and analysis by the Ministry.
Information related to an individual student including incidences of truancy, follow-up actions and referrals are now easily accessed and by only those who need to know – ensuring processes and procedures are correctly followed.
A key element of the project for Assura was maintaining the existing system interfaces wherever possible. With more than 2,000 users in the busy education sector, minimising training and learning time was essential. To facilitate this, the new system’s interface was built to exactly mirror the ENROL system that the schools were already using.
To further enable a seamless transition, all existing data from the last 10 years was migrated into the new ASA system, including 140,000 cases of non-enrolment and 5,000 ‘active’ cases.
The new Attendance Service Application (ASA) system went live in July 2013 and it has since received encouraging comments from users.
In addition to giving the Ministry of Education improved visibility of unjustified absences and non-enrolments, the ASA system is also supporting the achievement of attendance goals and, most importantly, keeping young people in education.
Working together, Assura was able to help the Ministry demonstrate Better Public Services in action.
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