Internal Control Tip: Student Attendance Checklist

What goes through your mind when you read this statement from the Texas Education Agency’s Student Attendance Accounting Handbook (SAAH) Section 1.2?

“If auditors determine that original documentation was not created at the time of the attendance it is intended to support, the TEA will retain 100% of your district’s FSP allotment for the inappropriately documented attendance for the school year(s) for which records have been requested.”

If this were social media, we would see a slew of emoji’s followed by clever acronyms to capture our shock and horror. The SAAH is a quite robust document, but has a wealth of information to help your district keep 100% of its funding. When you have a moment, add the SAAH to your internet browser favorites.

The critical message delivered by the SAAH is that documentation is king. If it wasn’t documented, then it didn’t happen. Those campus trainings you provide on an annual basis are not in vain! Those are a great reminder of what is required each and every day. The takeaway for campus attendance personnel is that they understand the procedures/requirements for a student to be considered present for State Funding purposes.

All changes from absent to present, especially during the official attendance period, should be of interest to those analyzing attendance data. However, don’t neglect changes from absent to present. Why? Your district could be needlessly losing money. District administrators should set clear expectations for campus level personnel on how they will monitor attendance data in an effort to avoid the pitfalls of inaccurate or incomplete documentation and thus data.

Use this checklist developed from the SAAH that serves as a starting point to monitor internal controls/documentation over attendance.

We all know the adage “time is money”, but in this case attendance is money!


Whitley Penn contributes to the TASBO Internal Control Tips at

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