The entire Philadelphia school system and select schools in Massachusetts and Maryland are using a new attendance-taking technology called the Comprehensive Attendance Administration and Security System, or CAASS. Administrators say the technology makes it easier to monitor truancy problems accurately and efficiently.

The system uses a wireless bar-code device at the front door of the school, through which students swipe ID cards as they enter the building. The device automatically sends information about when each student enters the school to a master computer, eliminating the complicated process of taking attendance in homeroom and allowing administrators to see instantly who was late or skipped the previous day’s classes.

CAASS also doubles as a security system, since it makes it more difficult for intruders to enter the building. Peter Blauvelt, president of the National Alliance for Safe Schools, said the system undoubtedly will raise questions about student privacy. However, he said he believes that using such technology ultimately benefits students.

CAASS was developed in 1996 by high-tech expert John Amatruda and tested during the 1996-’97 school year at Walbrook Senior High School in Baltimore. The system proved so successful that Amatruda’s company, School Technology Management (, was rewarded with six contracts for the machines at other Baltimore schools.