March 20, 2019 | 28° F

App allows parents to track student class attendance

Photo by Aaron Savage |

Class120, an app that tracks students' class attendance and relays information to parents, is considered helpful to some and a tool to foster "helicopter parenting" for others.

Twenty-five percent of students miss 240 classes over the course of four years, which is the equivalent of one year of classes, according to a student survey conducted by Core Principle. 

Class attendance is the number one predictor of how well a college-level student will do in school, yet not enough students are going to class, said Joe Montgomery, chief marketing officer of Core Principle.

Core Principle, the mother company of mobile app Class120, launched their new app on Jan. 20. The app allows parents to monitor whether their child is attending class or not. 

According to the company’s website, a Class120 representative will contact a student who misses two consecutive classes in a row or attends less than 80 percent of a single class.

The parent or student first uploads the class schedule onto the program’s website, and an app on the students phone tracks whether they are in the location of their classes.

The company has built a tool that lays down latitude and longitude coordinates at every academic building on a campus, Montgomery said.

“At the scheduled class time, we look for that device being within a certain proximity of the latitude and longitude point that we laid down,” he said.

Since the app’s launch two weeks ago, 2,000 students have been added to the server, Montgomery said. The cost of a basic package is either $17.99 a month or $199 a year, according to the company’s website.

Throughout the past year, Core Principle has gaged the reaction to the app from more than 1,000 students through focus groups and surveys. Montgomery said results were mixed, from both parents and students. 

But one opinion was not very mixed, he said. More than 90 percent of students agreed if parents are paying for their education, parents should expect them to go to class. 

“There are apps like Find My Phone and Google Latitude,” he said. “There are other apps out there that allow parents to locate their son or daughters phone 24/7. But that’s not Class120 ... the only time we want to be involved with device location is during class.”

Montgomery said he does not want the app to “be Big Brother” and thinks students deserve their privacy. The app does not reveal location data to parents if their student is not in class — it only sends an alert of the student’s absence. 

“We feel we are a good balance between the student and between the parent,” he said. 

But William Firestone, distinguished professor in the Graduate School of Education, said he thinks the app is a form of helicopter parenting and questions the nature of the parent/child relationship.

Firestone has children who have already graduated from college, but said he would not use Class120 with his children if they were in college today. He said it is important to build a level of trust with children. 

He also said he believes if a student needs to be monitored by their parents with an app, they most likely cannot handle other responsibilities that come with being a Rutgers student.  

“The purpose of college is to learn to live on your own and accept responsibility for your actions,” he said. “This app seems like it goes against what college is intended to teach.”

But Montgomery said he believes attending class is the most important factor in academic performance, making the app valuable. 

He said Jeff Whorley, CEO and founder of Core Principle, came up for the idea for the app after doing research on graduation rates in the U.S.

 “He wanted to do something to figure out how to improve graduation rates,” Montgomery said. “There are a lot of things impacting graduation rates, but class attendance is the easiest to [curb], compared to issues like substance abuse.”

Samantha Swarvorski, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said she would not want her parents downloading Class120. If her parents bought the app, Swarvorski said she would feel as if they did not trust her or believe in her ability to navigate life as an adult.

She also said she believes it is better to skip class under certain circumstances. Rather than sit in a two-hour long lecture, she said your GPA benefits more from spending that time studying. 

But Swarvorski said she does understand why many parents would utilize such technology. 

“My parents are paying $20,000 a year for my tuition and housing,” she said. “If they want to make sure [that] money is being well spent, I can understand that.”

Avalon Zoppo

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