New Philly School IDs Hold Free/Reduced Data

Philadelphia Public Schools has issued contactless ID cards that automatically verify free/reduced lunch status along with identity and class schedule information to all 56,000 students in its 60 high schools. The cards, from ScholarChip Card LLC, had been piloted for 18 months at a pair of middle schools and will soon be implemented at three others, along with the high schools.

The cards, either hung around the neck on a lanyard or carried in a pocket or purse, are used primarily to track attendance. Students simply tap them onto electronic readers as they enter the school grounds.

That data is then checked against the morning classroom attendance tabulation taken by teachers in the traditional way. The IDs also allow teachers and administrators to quickly verify where students should be at any given time of the day with portable, PDA-style readers because they hold each student's individual class schedule.

In the cafeteria, the card is flashed against a reader to determine free/reduced lunch status in the checkout line. Eventually, school officials say they would like to augment them to function as debit payment vehicles for meal purchases.