Demystifying The Attendance By Group Report

The other day, I sat down under a willow tree and did some deep, introspective soul-searching on the new Attendance By Group report. When I reached into the depths of my being, I realized that we’ve been doing it all wrong.


Please pardon me while I take some time to explain a little about how your attendance data is organized. There are groups, events, and members. Members can belong to multiple groups. Events can belong to multiple groups. But events don’t need to belong to the same groups that the members do.

So, let’s say that Johnny is two groups: Grade 7 and Boys.

Let’s say that you’re having an Open House this weekend and you’ve invited two groups: Grade 7 and Grade 8.

Now you know what I’m talking about. Johnny will be going to the Open House because he’s in grade 7, but that doesn’t mean that all boys will be going to the Open House. And it doesn’t mean that all of the 8th graders at the open house will be boys.

Also, there are certainly some events that 7th graders are required to attend that 8th graders aren’t.

And, there are probably some events that boys need to attend that girls don’t have to.

So now you come along and ask, “what’s the attendance like for 7th graders?”

To which I say: what do you mean?

The Problem

Are you asking about attendance for events that 7th graders and only 7th graders are required to attend?

Are you asking about events that 7th graders can attend, but other groups can attend too?

Or are you asking about all events that 7th graders happen to attend, whether they’re required to attend them or not?

Do you want to know about just current seventh graders, people who were seventh graders at the time of a particular event, or members who have ever at some point in the past been seventh graders?

So, you see, when you ask about “attendance by group”, this is a very tricky question for a computer, because it doesn’t know exactly what you’re asking.

The Old Way



So, our programmers did something novel. They took a guess about what you probably wanted to know when you were asking about attendance by group. As it turns out, we guessed wrong.

In Best Attendance, if you click on Reports, and choose the By Group tab, this is precisely what happened:

We looked at every single event. If a particular group was required for the event, we added all of the attendance marks from that event to the bucket for each of its required groups. So, using our Open House example above, which was required for both 7th graders and 8th graders, suppose that there were a total of 140 people at that event.

The chart would show 140 people present for 7th grade events, and 140 people present for 8th grade events.

We were showing, for events of each required group, how many total people were present in all events required for that group.

This resulted in a lot of confusion. “How can I have 140 people present for 7th grade events, when I only have 70 seventh graders?”

Valid question, but now you know.

The New Way

So our first guess about what we thought you really wanted to know when you were asking about attendance by group was completely off the mark. What did we do? Went ahead and made another wild guess (but hopefully a more informed one than our last guess was).

Here’s what the report does now, and we hope that is clears up some confusion:

The report no longer creates totals based on which groups the events belong to, as it did before. Instead, it creates totals based on which groups the members belong to.

So now, we go through all of the attendance marks and find out who owns them. So we see that Johnny, a 7th grade boy, was present at the open house. Before, we counted that attendance mark toward the 7th grade and the 8th grade groups (the required groups for the Open House). Now, we’re counting them toward the 7th grade and Boys groups (the groups that Johnny belongs to).

What you see now reflects the attendance for members in the groups, rather than attendance for events in the groups.

And By The Way

There’s just one more thing. So, you have 70 seventh graders, right? Let’s say that they were all in class 5 days last week. Thats 70 x 5 = 350 attendance marks. So the Attendance By Group report will show that there were 350 seventh graders present at events in the past week (whether 7th grade was a required group for those events or not).

For some people, knowing the total aggregate attendance is exactly what they’re looking for.

But there is another segment of the population who lives with a different worldview:

“There are only 70 seventh graders! How could the report say were were 350 of them???”

(The report doesn’t say there were 350 seventh graders; it says that there were a total of 350 sign-ins by seventh graders).

Regardless, some people don’t care about that. Some people would rather know this: out of my 70 seventh graders, how many of them came to any of my classes in the last week?

Rest assured, we can answer this for you too. There is a new dropdown control on the Attendance By Groups report allowing you to instruct the computer to either “Count Attendance Marks” (in which case it will say 350 in our example) or “Count Members” (in which case it would show 70 in our example).

When you choose Count Members, you’re asking: of my 70 seventh graders, how many of them attended events last week? So what we do is count how many people in each group attended at least one event within the specified date range, and we don’t double-count members if they sign in for more than one event.

Wasn’t that fun?

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