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Excelsior Springs High starts scanning student’s fingers

EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. -- Students returning to Excelsior Springs High School Thursday will be met with biometric scanners. The school says the fingerprints are needed because of new education style that lets students plot on their own schedules on a daily basis.

"The world has changed what our graduates need," Excelsior Springs High School Principal John Newell said.

Excelsior Springs leaders started visiting schools in Iowa and Missouri the past year to figure out how they could better prepare students for tomorrow's workforce.

They settled on flexible modular scheduling. High school students will still take core classes, but will be given a lot more time throughout the day to visit resource rooms staffed by teams of teachers to help them with homework or projects.

Over the summer construction crews knocked down walls to create new larger collaborative learning spaces. They hope to knock down barriers to learning.

"We`re not expecting to hear a quiet room with a lot of kids silently completing worksheets, we are looking for collaboration, we are looking for innovation, we are looking for projects," Principal Newell said.

But increased student autonomy created the need for accountability.

"A student will come in here, their index finger will go on the pad," Newell demonstrated at the new biometric finger scanners being placed in each resource room.

Fearing student ids could easily be traded among students. School leaders settled on the biometric scanners fearing student id cards could easily be handed to other students looking to skip class.

Each time a student decides to head to a different subject's resource room they'll have to scan their fingers.

"We can`t access the fingerprints, we can`t see them," Principal Newell said, addressing parents initial privacy concerns at an open house Tuesday night.

"It`s just one of those new-age thing. It`s going to come sooner or later, I`d rather it be later, but what can we do?" parent, Mitchell Wilson said.

As for the new learning style, parents seem to be mostly in support of students setting their own goals and finding their own paths.

"It`s going to show them responsibility, which they need to learn before they get out of high school," parent Branan Allen said.