This lesson provides an overview on importing student attendance data into DnA.
About Attendance Data
Because DnA is a student information system, all DnA installations can benefit from loading and reporting on daily attendance data. The attendance.txt import allows districts to upload daily and period student attendance with their nightly imports.
If you do not take attendance every period, every section that does NOT have attendance taken must be marked as 0 in the Is Attendance Enabled column in the mastschd.txt file. DnA marks the student present for every section unless the section is marked with a 0 in the mastschd.txt file. Not following these guidelines will result in an inaccurate representation of days present/absent in DnA. The client will also need to update the mastschd.txt file If assistance is required they may reach out to the Data Team.
About Importing Attendance
The attendance.txt file is how individual student attendance data is loaded into DnA. For DnA Data and Assessment (DnA) and DnA Special Education (ISE) your attendance.txt file can be uploaded nightly. The attendance dataset is generally a large dataset since it should always represent a full years worth of attendance data for all students. For DnA Student Information (ISI) the attendance data can be loaded for historical data loads, but student attendance is managed in the system once the system is live. There should never be a need for attendance imports once an ISI installation is live.
The unique key on an attendance record is: Import Student ID, Section ID, and Attendance Date. These three fields together are what constitute a unique attendance record.
- Import Student ID
- Student Last Name
- Student First Name
- Birth Date
- Section ID
- Final Attendance Flag Code
- Site ID
- Created By*
- Student Grade Level ID*
Import Student ID is the key identifier for this dataset. The Import Student ID should be a unique value for each student. It is not required that the value is the Student Information System (SIS) ID. It is required that for the entire installation the value is guaranteed to be unique. Traditionally, in a single district instance, the Import Student ID is the SIS generated student ID. In installations that span multiple districts, such as a consortium or a county, the Import Student ID is usually the State Student ID because this value is expected to be unique across multiple SIS.
Student Last Name, Student First Name, and Birth Date are actually soft requirements within this dataset. It is expected that every student should have these additional three basic data elements available in this file. In the programs.txt file, these fields are only used to assist in troubleshooting data. Ensuring that the data is available in the file allows for more efficient troubleshooting when reviewing import logs. This data is required to be present in the import file, however, the fields are not imported. These fields are updated only through the studemo.txt import.
Section ID, Final Attendance Flag Code, and Site ID create the actual attendance mark for a student. These three fields together identify the course, teacher, time-block, and site where the given attendance mark is being given.
Created By* and Student Grade Level ID* are conditional requirements. In the event that attendance data being imported is for elementary students where there is no section data, then the only link back to the class that the student is in will be their grade and their teacher. Created By should be the user ID of the students teacher who originally recorded the attendance record. Student Grade Level ID will be the grade that the student is in.
If any of the required fields are not provided or if any of the required fields do not align to the designated field types or values, the entire record will not import. Problems with required fields will generate import errors.
Whether or not a field is required refers to basic, minimal operation of the system. With only the required fields your DnA installation will work, however, it may not be configured optimally. Additionally, beyond minimal functionality and basic reporting, in an ISI as much data as can possibly be provided should be imported. Many non required fields are used in basic reports and compliance reporting.
Non-Required, but Highly Recommended Fields
- State Student ID
- Course ID
- Created By*
- Reconciled By
- Creation Date/Time
- Reconciled Date/Time
- Original Teacher Attendance Code
- Positive Attendance Minutes 1
- Positive Attendance Minutes 2
- Positive Attendance Minutes 3
- Positive Attendance Minutes 4
- Positive Attendance Minutes Possible
- Student Grade Level ID*
- Academic Year
- Session Type
State Student IDi s the students unique identifier for state data reporting. It is used extensively as an alternate identifier for students. It is strongly recommended that this information is provided. In this import this ID is used solely for troubleshooting and student identifying information. It is not updated or imported from this file. It is only updated or importing via the studemo.txt import.
Course ID is not required but is a helpful data element to link the student to the course in which they are receiving the attendance record. Generally, the Section ID will address this issue, however, for troubleshooting and additional data validation, Course ID is a helpful piece of data to submit.
Created By*, Reconciled By, Creation Date/Time, Reconciled Date/Time, and Original Teacher Attendance Code are all additional data elements to help track the process of attendance data collection and reconciliation. The DnA import will support all of the fields, however they are not required. Both Created By and reconciled By should be user IDs within the system.
Positive Attendance Minutes 1-4 and Positive Attendance Minutes Possible are used in sections where positive attendance taking practices are in place. Please submit numeric counts of minutes in these fields.
Student Grade Level ID represents the grade that the student is in.
Academic Year and Session Type are not required fields, but allow for attendance for various years and sessions to be imported. If, for example, importing attendance data for historical summer school records, be sure to include both Academic Year and Session Type.
* Designates fields that are conditionally required. Depending on whether or not other data is provided will determine if the listed fields are required.
- This is a frequent occurrence when data is initially loaded. In order for student attendance records to be successfully imported into DnA, all of the attendance flags need to be accounted for. They don't all necessarily need to exist in DnA, but they need to be accounted for. Assume, for example, that your data set contains 25 attendance codes. In this dataset there are multiple variations of reconciled excused and unexcused absences due to the nature of attendance accounting. However, in DnA you may only want to see three or four attendance codes to represent unexcused and excused attendance events. On the other hand, you may need to faithfully replicate and account for all attendance flags in DnA. There are two possible solutions for this:
- For DnA or ISE installations where attendance data is desired for reporting, it is a good idea NOT to include all of the original attendance flags in your installation. Identify which of your original flags map to the desired flags that you will use for reporting. In your DnA import configurations (Admin > Data > Core Data Configurations) add a mapping on the attendance flag column to translate all of your original flags to the desired reporting flags.
- For ISI installations beginning the data conversion process, you will most likely need to account for all of your incoming attendance flags. The ISI data conversion process is a good time to reevaluate and possibly consolidate some of your current flags. As you review your existing attendance flags, you may want to map some of the incoming flags to new flags. However, this is not necessary. In your ISI installation you will need to add all of the appropriate attendance flags (Admin > Attendance > Attendance Flags) in order for your data to import completely.
To learn more about available files to import into DnA, visit Optional Datasets.