School Climate & Safety

Student ID Cards Sport New Digital Features

By Katie Ash — January 29, 2010 5 min read
BRIC ARCHIVE
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Student-identification cards have evolved relatively quickly from laminated badges with a student’s name and picture to all-purpose electronic cards that can now be used to check out library books, buy lunch, open lockers, and even track students’ comings and goings.

Because of the increased functionality of the cards, as well as administrators’ desire to improve student safety and security and build a more efficient school environment, identification cards are becoming a more important tool in many schools.

For example, at Philadelphia’s 750-student School of the Future, each student swipes a unique ID card when entering the building, buying lunch, and opening his or her locker.

“Each of these cards has a smart chip in them,” says Mary Cullinane, the director of innovation and business development for Microsoft Education, which helped design the school.

The $62 million School of the Future, created through a partnership between Microsoft and the Philadelphia school district, opened in 2006, but has struggled to achieve its goal of serving as a technology-rich model for what 21st-century high schools should look like. (“School of the Future,” this issue.)

That ID technology allows the card to store information about the student. And storing locker combinations and lunch money is just the beginning, says Cullinane. “[The technology] allows you to create a foundation so that more and more things can be coordinated using the card,” she says.

For example, it will be possible in the future for students to use their ID cards to keep track of how many calories they burn at the school’s cardiovascular-fitness center, Cullinane says, and then match that information with the calories consumed at lunch.

“It gives you a much more holistic view of the student,” she says.

Rick Lopez, an assistant principal at Valencia High School in Placentia, Calif., outside Los Angeles, says student ID cards have become an integral part of his school’s efforts to manage programs and services more efficiently.

“I really don’t know how we would monitor [all the different privileges] in an efficient way if we didn’t have [student IDs],” he says. “For us, from an efficiency standpoint, I wouldn’t do it any other way.”

Still, despite the digital improvements in ID cards and their ability to improve school procedures, some parents and privacy advocates are concerned that such cards can be used inappropriately. They worry that schools will go overboard in tracking students’ movements, personal preferences, and other matters.

“You have the privacy concerns that come with tracking,” says Jay Stanley, the public education director of the Technology and Liberty program at the New York City-based American Civil Liberties Union. “For example, what kinds of records are being kept on students, are those records much more granular in detail than they need to be, what’s going to be done with those records, and who are they going to be shared with?”

However, using student IDs to sign in and out of school electronically is not an objectionable violation of privacy, he says.

Tracking Attendance, Parking

Being able to follow students’ comings and goings can be an attractive feature of the ID systems.

In some districts, for instance, student ID cards are now being used to control school parking lots, says Holly Sacks, the senior vice president of global marketing and corporate strategy for the Irvine, Calif.-based HID Global, which provides access-control and identification-management equipment. Student drivers scan their IDs into machines at school parking lots much as adults do for access to employee parking garages.

“It can be quite helpful in making sure that you’ve got the people that you want in the parking lot,” says Sacks.

“[Student ID cards are] also very useful on the district bus system,” she says. “When students get on the bus and off the bus, there’s a record of where the child has been and where they were taken to.”

Many schools use the cards to help track attendance and tardiness, says Andrea Wilkins, the national sales manager for the K-12 market for Plasco ID, a Miami-based company that sells and installs identification products. Having students electronically swipe their cards when they are late for school is much faster than lining students up and writing tardy passes for each of them, says Wilkins.

Using such cards can help improve efficiency in the lunch line as well, says Bill Keyes, a spokesman for the Hampden, Mass.-based Rediker Software, which provides student-information-management software to schools.

In addition to keeping student accounts up to date and speeding up the lunch line, the ID cards can help reduce embarrassment for children who receive subsidized lunches, he says, since all children use the same cards regardless of payment status.

Hand-held card scanners are becoming increasingly popular, says Wilkins of Plasco ID. Administrators can now carry the scanners with them through the hallways when students are supposed to be in class and pull up information such as a student’s schedule—on any stragglers. Mobile scanners can also be taken on field trips to help keep track of students, she says.

Putting a student-ID system in place is not complicated, says David Murphy, the business-development manager for cards for Zebra Technologies, based in Lincolnshire, Ill. It involves buying the equipment—a card printer, ID-management software, a camera, and printing supplies—and installing the software on the school’s network.

It also helps that the price of printing the cards and buying the software to manage the system has come down in recent years, says Murphy. Depending on the size of the school, a modern student-ID system can cost from $2,000 to $4,000, he says.

Beyond price and technical concerns, schools should also be upfront with parents about why using student IDs is a good idea, says Wilkins.

There can be some pushback from parents when ID cards are first introduced, she says, especially with parents of younger students in elementary or middle school. They worry that their children will lose their cards, a concern especially—for safety reasons—if the youngsters’ names, pictures, and schools are printed on them.

“You definitely have to make sure parents understand why the school is doing it,” Wilkins says.

A version of this article appeared in the February 03, 2010 edition of Digital Directions as ID Required


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety What the Research Says A Hallmark of School Shooters: Long History of Social Rejection
New research finds that shooters in K-12 schools are more often "failed joiners" than loners.
5 min read
Butler County Sheriff Deputies stand on the scene at Madison Local Schools, in Madison Township in Butler County, Ohio, after a school shooting on Feb. 29, 2016.
Sheriff deputies were on the scene of a shooting at Madison Local Schools, in Butler County, Ohio, in 2016.
Cara Owsley/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP
School Climate & Safety 4 Myths About Suspensions That Could Hurt Students Long Term
New longitudinal research shows that longer in- and out-of-school suspensions have severe consequences for students.
5 min read
Image of a student sitting at a desk in a school hallway.
Jupiterimages/Getty
School Climate & Safety Photos The Tense and Joyous Start to the 2021 School Year, in Photos
Students are headed back to school with the threat of the Delta variant looming. How is this playing out across the country? Take a look.
School Climate & Safety Former NRA President Promotes Gun Rights at Fake Graduation Set Up by Parkland Parents
A former NRA president invited to give a commencement address to a school that doesn’t exist was set up to make a point about gun violence.
Lisa J. Huriash, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
2 min read
David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, speaks during the CPAC meeting in Washington on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2010.
David Keene, the former president of the NRA, promoted gun rights in a speech he thought was a rehearsal for a commencement address to graduating students in Las Vegas. The invitation to give the speech was a set up by Parkland parents whose son was killed in the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP