WorkTime - Employee monitoring for school boards

January 10, 2024

10 min read

Employee monitoring for school boards

Key takeaways

• School districts have used pen-and-paper for “accountability and transparency” for decades. Unfortunately, there's too much room for error. More than 90,000 men and women are members of local school boards in the United States. They are serving as trustees of the nation’s public education systems. Most of the public knows school boards set budgets, establish school boundaries, and set school policies. Does school boards' work affect student achievement? • WorkTime is employee monitoring & management software, but it can be extremely beneficial for education. It can be implemented on any scale for any group of school employees. Unlike many other employee monitoring software platforms, WorkTime design offers unique customization options that will ease the reporting nuances around positions, contractual obligations, ever-changing schedules, and multiple locations. • How can WorkTime help? How do you know your goals are met if your reports are hand-written notes? You trust a random person to report progress, tools used, and time spent on tasks. You don’t need to rely on hearsay when adopting employee monitoring software. • Achieve all the characteristics of quality education governance, starting with the ability to focus on student achievement while spending comparatively little time on day-to-day operational issues. • Steer your school board and your district to become data and accountability-driven. Align your resources with district goals, starting with employee availability. Real-life data on employee activities in the workplace help schedule professional development for teachers, administrators, and other staff. • Learn how to build strong board/superintendent relationships. According to multiple research and surveys, the school boards that promote transparency have greater student achievement by dropout rates, and it hinges on internal district transparency and mutual trust.

WorkTime is helping school districts move employee monitoring into digital era with a modern, easy-to-use system.

It may be 2023, and we’ve survived a worldwide pandemic, infused software with AI, and landed a couple of things on Mars, but many school districts still use paper and pencil to monitor and manage employee time. It's an activity. While employee monitoring systems have often been clunky and not built for the needs of school boards, technology has (thankfully) evolved, and school districts have much better options now for employee monitoring.

Pen and paper no longer cut it as a monitoring technique

School districts have used pen-and-paper activity sheets for decades. Unfortunately, there's too much room for error (unlike employee monitoring software). Not just for administrators but for the employees who fill them out, the administrative assistants who monitor late activity sheets, the supervisors tasked with interpreting illegible handwriting, and the payroll staff who use accounting software to enter the information. Paper activity sheets also have a proven history of activity fraud, inefficiency, and human error. (Again, unlike employee monitoring software). Payroll managers bear the brunt of these issues, and efficient payroll is crucial to any district; 80 percent of its budget goes to compensating employees. Thankfully, there's a better way!

WorkTime is conceptualized by experts with more than two decades of experience in productivity tracking and efficiency monitoring technology.

What do school boards do?

Let's shift from the broad “terms” to a more specific user group - school boards. More than 90,000 men and women are members of local school boards in the United States. They are serving as trustees of the nation’s public education systems. According to the National School Boards Association, these public officials serve on 13,809 elected or appointed boards in the U.S. Most of the public knows school boards set budgets, establish school boundaries, and set school policies. Does school boards' work affect student achievement? 1. Boards are more likely to engage in goal setting and monitoring their progress. They are increasingly data-savvy-identifying student needs and justifying decisions based on data. 2. Board members possess detailed knowledge of their district, including initiatives to jump-start success. 3. Board members have crafted a working relationship with superintendents, teachers, and administrators based on mutual respect, collegiality, and a joint commitment to student success. 4. Effective school boards commit to a vision of high expectations for student achievement and quality instruction and define clear goals toward that vision. 5. Effective school boards are accountability-driven, spending less time on operational issues and more time focused on policies to improve student achievement. 6. Effective boards are data savvy; they embrace and monitor data, even when the information is negative, and use it to drive continuous improvement. 7. Effective school boards align and sustain resources, such as professional development, to meet district goals. 8. Effective school boards lead as a united team with the superintendent, each from their respective roles, with strong collaboration and mutual trust.

How can WorkTime help school boards achieve the next level of success?

WorkTime is employee monitoring & management software, but it can be extremely beneficial for education: https://www.worktime.com/try. • WorkTime provides a simple and intuitive workflow for all users, which creates more useful output and efficient payroll operations. • WorkTime ensures educators, school board members, and staff members are paid correctly and on time. • WorkTime allows employees not to waste time specifically logging (writing down) their activity while the management gets accurate reports. • WorkTime ensures resources are allocated and used correctly and decisions are based on data (productivity reports). • WorkTime provides insight and transparency into how employees spend their time. • WorkTime utilizes electronic activity reports for fast and easy employee monitoring that can be submitted and approved quickly. • WorkTime is simple to set up and can be learned quickly by administrators and teaching staff. WorkTime employee monitoring can be implemented on any scale for any group of school employees. You can test WorkTime’s employee monitoring software with a small group of employees (check out our free trial) first to see how well it works before implementing a full-scale rollout. Unlike many other employee monitoring software platforms, WorkTime works cohesively with other software systems that you're currently using. And unlike most activity and attendance software, its design offers unique customization options that will ease the reporting nuances around positions, contractual obligations, ever-changing schedules, and multiple locations.

WorkTime is a highly customizable and user-friendly system. Depending on the adoption goals, it can be adapted to the needs of educators, school boards, and students.

WorkTime helps school boards commit to a vision and define clear goals

In comparing district leadership and student achievement, Waters and Marzano identified five specific district leadership responsibilities that positively correlated with student achievement: 1. Establishing a collaborative process to set goals; 2. Establishing “non-negotiable goals”. 3. Having the board align with and support district goals; 4. Monitoring goals for achievement and instruction; 5. Using resources to support achievement and instruction goals. How can WorkTime help? How do you know your goals are met if your reports are hand-written notes? You trust a random person to report progress, tools used, and time spent on tasks. You don’t need to rely on hearsay when adopting employee monitoring software.

WorkTime reports give you a birds-eye view of all computer activity, from the total time spent on a computer to the apps and web resources users interact with.

According to the “School district leadership that works: The effect of superintendent leadership on student achievement” report, publicly adopting broad five-year goals for achievement and instruction and consistently supporting these goals, both publicly and privately, are examples of board-level actions that are found to be positively correlated with student achievement. Thus adopting a monitoring system that provides school board members with iron-clad computer activity reports reinforces those goals by offering board members data to evaluate the effectiveness of initial goals. Typically, boards adopt goals with specific achievement targets and benchmarks. Within the WorkTime reports, you can find the markers of your district meeting your benchmarks. With the help of employee monitoring software, the board ensures that these goals remain the top priorities in the district and that no other initiatives detract attention or resources from accomplishing these goals.

WorkTime allows school boards to regularly get accurate reports and pinpoint if the district meets set goals and reaches benchmarks on time, allowing swift and data-based course correction.

In Beyond Islands of Excellence, Togneri and Anderson provided examples of the positive effects of goal setting. In its case studies, it adopted specific goals, and boards consistently adopted policies to support them. Three case studies (Kent County, Minneapolis, and Providence adopted comprehensive strategic plans and the action steps needed to attain them. To assess progress, Kent County and Minneapolis added indicators of success to the plan so board members could review gains or address challenges. Each district also adopted what Togneri and Anderson termed a stated vision of student success. For goals on student achievement, board members identified brief, one-line vision statements and used them in public and staff presentations. The report said that school boards and superintendents also carefully examined how to stretch limited dollars to focus sufficient funding on the goals.

With WorkTime reports, you can check your progress indicators while the set period for reaching the goal is “still on.” Which translates to making all decisions (plan-wise and budget-wise) based on factual data.

The Lighthouse studies also offer important details about identifying goals. In high-achieving districts, board members adopted goals and had detailed knowledge about their relationship to curriculum, instruction, assessment, and staff development. As a result, these public officials could identify the purposes and processes behind school improvement initiatives and the board's role in supporting these efforts. By comparison, in low-achieving districts, board members were "only vaguely aware of school improvement initiatives," researchers noted. They were sometimes aware of goals but seldom able to describe actions being taken by staff members to improve learning. Notably, these differences extended down to the staff level. In high-achieving districts, staff members could link the school board's goals to building-level goals for student learning and explain how the goals impacted classrooms. Staff members identified clear goals for improvement, described how staff development supported the goals, and how they monitored progress based on student learning data. By comparison, in the low-achieving districts, there was little evidence of a pervasive focus on school renewal at any level when it was not present at the board level.

By gathering data via employee monitoring software, school boards can easily set tangible goals and track progress in a very controlled way.

WorkTime allows school boards to be accountability-driven

According to Goodman, Fulbright, and Zimmerman, another characteristic of quality governance is the ability to focus on student achievement while spending comparatively little time on day-to-day operational issues. In interviews with hundreds of board members and staff across the districts, they found that high-performing boards focus on establishing a vision supported by policies that target student achievement. Yet poor governance is characterized by factors such as micro-management by the board; confusion about the appropriate roles for the board member and superintendent; interpersonal conflict between the board chair and superintendent; and board member disregard for the agenda process and the chain of command.

WorkTime helps school boards spend less time on operational issues and more on policies to improve student achievement.

WorkTime prides itself on being a “weapon of choice” against micromanagement. By having instant access to “the big picture” of computer activity on your campus or within your district, school boards, as well as educators, can base all decisions, guidelines, and intermediary steps towards the “big goal” without the need to “helicopter” above every little activity. Case studies of individual districts in other studies support many of these findings. In Chula Vista, Calif., the board took its policy role seriously and developed policies that supported instructional reform. As profiled in Togneri and Anderson (mentioned above), the focus began when top administrators recognized a need for a new cadre of exceptional principals and asked the school board for help. In response, the board approved a policy with higher salaries for high-performing staff, giving the district more leverage to attract quality candidates to the district. And you can easily find out who is your “high-performing staff” via productivity reports. Other case studies were replete with examples of board commitment to policy and accountability. In Aldine, Texas, board members adopted strategic plans that placed children's learning needs front and center. When a school board aims to promote achievement, encourage staff to tackle difficult issues, and seek innovative solutions, non-invasive employee monitoring software becomes indispensable. Employee monitoring reports on this occasion leverage accountability like no other. As a result, with newfound transparency, the districts can engage in a collegial policy-making process based on real-life data of time and information usage.

WorkTime reports give insight into time usage, web resources, and application usage within computer activity. This enhances transparency and accountability of the whole educational system.

WorkTime allows school boards to become data-savvy and data-driven

In the Lighthouse study, board members identified specific student needs through data and justified decisions based on that data. In addition, board members were open about discussing trends on dropout rates, test scores, and student needs, with many seeking such information regularly. By adopting employee monitoring software, educators could ease the data collection on time spent using specific web resources and applications and the general time span using computers at school. By comparison, board members in low-achieving districts tended to greet data with a "blaming" perspective, describing teachers, students, and families as major causes for low performance. The Lighthouse study contrasts with a high-performance district, where the superintendent believes sharing information will encourage engagement. Board members in this district view data as a diagnostic tool without the emotional response of blame.

WokTime helps school boards embrace and monitor data and use it to drive continuous improvement.

Togneri and Anderson also emphasized how effective school boards embraced data. Boards were fearless in confronting negative data and used it as a basis to improve teaching and learning. In Minneapolis, a renewed emphasis on data has helped drive improvement. Yet when the city's Chamber of Commerce failed to support the school board's request for a tax increase, the board began fundamentally rethinking based on goals and data. It hired a new superintendent with a strong foundation in instructional improvement. The board and superintendent developed goals and performance indicators to rank and monitor school progress.

WorkTime is fully equipped to provide frequent data-based reports on computer activity, which can be juxtaposed to set goals and benchmarks while based on real-life data.

WorkTime helps school boards align and sustain resources, to meet district goals

People forget that time is a vital resource that seems unlimited until you’re in a bind and have not enough of it. Successful boards recognize the need to support high priorities even during fiscal uncertainty. One leading example is providing professional development for teachers, administrators, and other staff. And time management and scheduling become immensely easier when you’ve got valid data (derived from employee monitoring software) on how it is spent. According to The Politics of Excellence: Trustee Leadership and School District Ethos, effective boards were responsible for maintaining high standards even amid budget challenges. The boards supported extensive professional development programs for administrators and teachers, even during time restraints.

WorkTime gives school boards time reports and unparalleled transparency in terms of staff availability.

Lighthouse study researchers identified research-based professional development for staff as one of seven conditions for improvement in high-achieving districts. Board members described staff development activities and could describe the link between teacher training and district goals for students. In low-achieving districts, however, board members said teachers made their own decisions on staff development based on perceived needs in the classroom or for certification. Board members knew there was a need for staff development but needed to figure out how to fit these activities with daily plans and activities. Board members frequently made "disparaging remarks" about staff development, calling it a “timewise unattainable” and time-inefficient strategy.

Adopt employee monitoring software to find time slots for anything in your improvement plan. WorkTime is here to help you accurately assess your staff engagement and availability.

The lighthouse study further reinforced this point. Boards took an active interest in professional development and provided the infrastructure for such programming to succeed. For most boards, this required significant changes in the allocation of resources (people, time, and money) and would not have happened without a clear understanding of how the availability landscape within their district looks like and the characteristics of quality professional development and improvement of the knowledge and skills of educators to improve student outcomes. Additional evidence is available in Snipes, Doolittle, and Herlihy's analysis of high- and low-achieving districts. The board and superintendent support constant professional development built on the curriculum in high-achieving districts. In lower-achieving districts, professional development may vary extensively from school to school. One example was in Sacramento, Calif., where teachers received at least 18 hours of in-service training per year based on uniform curricula. New teachers also received six full days of instructional training, and teachers had common planning periods to encourage collaboration on lesson plans and strategies to address student needs. In Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., schools, weeklong seminars for Advanced Placement teachers, leadership retreats for principals, and financial support for attaining national board certification were among the effective strategies by the district to improve curriculum.

WorkTime is here to help you find time for professional development for teachers and principals, building the knowledge, skills, and competencies educators need to accomplish a district's goals.

WorkTime creates unified workflow reports for school boards and the superintendent for strong collaboration and mutual trust

In Getting There from Here, Goodman and colleagues concluded that those with a strong board/ superintendent relationship had greater student achievement as measured by dropout rates, the percentage of students going to college, and aptitude test scores. Goodman's review of characteristics of quality governance included several that were directly related to school boards and their relationships: • A trusting and collaborative relationship between the board and superintendent; • Creation by the board of conditions and organizational structures that allowed the superintendent to function as the chief executive officer and instructional leader of the district; • Evaluation of the superintendent according to mutually agreed upon procedures; • Effective communication between the board chair and superintendent and among board members.

WorkTime creates internal visibility within complicated working environments to promote transparency and accountability. That, in turn, streamlines communication between the board and the superintendent.

Likewise, Snipes, Doolittle, and Herlihy also emphasize the importance of these factors. In successful districts, boards defined an initial vision for the district and sought a superintendent who matched this vision. Boards needed to define a vision faster and often recruited a superintendent with their ideas and platform. The district differences increased over time as boards and superintendents jointly refined their visions, assessed district strengths and weaknesses, and showed a stable relationship. Using real-life data from an employee monitoring software can become indispensable to notice if the actions don’t match the vision. By comparison, less successful districts featured boards and superintendents that were not aligned, as the superintendent "may develop solutions without board involvement." Such boards also may need to adopt employee monitoring software and hold superintendents accountable for goals.

In conclusion

The quality of a nation’s educational system is predicated on the success of its schools. Ensuring success belongs to teachers and the leadership of school organizations. Technology cannot be underestimated. It supports school boards to focus on their responsibilities, work towards school goals, and govern effectively. Using non-invasive employee monitoring software is one of how technology can empower and transform how school boards lead. Here are some of the benefits that school boards can derive from using employee monitoring: • Simplify absence and substitute management. • Streamline time-off requests • Submit time-off requests and let the system notify administrators and update schedules. • Reduce the hassle and automate notifications so substitutes are automatically notified and can accept open assignments. • Track employees’ contracted hours against how many hours they work. • Classify each staffer as annualized, calendar-based, or pay-by-exception. • Determine how people working in multiple roles should be compensated to eliminate overpayments. WorkTime employee monitoring software replaces time-consuming, error-prone manual processes for a more accurate workforce management solution. In conclusion, the benefits of utilizing a board portal for educational organizations allow school boards to do their job – and to do it well. The impact of employee monitoring solutions that enable school boards to work effectively and efficiently is far-reaching, not only from a financial angle but also from a societal standpoint.

Check out how much data you can collect with WorkTime via our free trial with a small group of employees to see how well it works before opting for a full-scale rollout.

What’s next