Radio-Frequency Identification in Schools

One of our vendors mentioned that radio-frequency identification tags can be used to automate tasks like student attendance and tracking cafeteria purchases. It sounds like a fancy bar coding system. What's it about?

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags are computer chips that can be embedded into student ID cards. Individual student information can be uploaded to the chips, which are read by an electronic reader, something like a bar code scanner except that the reader uses an electromagnetic signal rather than a manual scan.

The up side of these new devices is that they can be used to automate time-intensive tasks such as taking attendance. The down side is that privacy rights proponents fear that students' rights may be abused if the RFID tags are used to monitor their every move.

A charter school in New York is currently using RFID tags to take student attendance and may expand their use to include paying for lunch and checking out library books, but use of RFID in schools is not widespread at this time.

Submitted by: Susan Brooks-Young

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