Should Attendance Matter in Belt Promotions?

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karate belt trackingAttendance is a useful tool for managing the process of belt testing and promotions. Of course, we are not advocating for lowering standards or using rank inflation. Definitely not. But using attendance as a guide makes managing belt testing easier and ensures students are ready to test and test when they are ready.

When it comes to using attendance, there isn’t a single system that works for every school. But here a couple of the best ways we’ve seen it used to manage the process.
Using Attendance to Signal Test Preparedness
When an academy grows, keeping track of each student’s progress becomes difficult. In bigger schools without an attendance guideline, students can slip through the cracks and end up testing or getting a promotion long after they are ready for one. If you’ve got a bigger school, you’ve probably seen it happen. You know, lower ranking students out performing the higher-ranking students.

To make sure students test when they should, instructors can run attendance reports to look for preparedness. For example, you can set up guidelines like:

When a student has been in attendance X number of hours, they should be ready for the next belt test.

Of course, they still have to pass the test to get the promotion. But using attendance in this capacity ensures students aren’t missed for tests.
break board martial arts
Using Attendance to Monitor Skill Attainment

Sometimes students need a little extra coaching. But in bigger schools with several instructors and multiple classes a day, it’s hard always to identify this need. To make sure each student gets enough coaching to be ready for the next test, instructors can use attendance as a baseline skill guide.

For example, you can set up guidelines like:

The average student masters a certain skill within X number of hours.

Then instructors can run a report to identify students who are not quite where they should be. Normally, a little extra coaching is all that’s needed for a student to master the skill and stay engaged. Of course, with younger students the process is less about mastering a specific skill and more about just staying interested in learning.

Either way, the worst-case scenario is for a student to become frustrated because they aren’t where they want and need to be as they prepare for a belt test. When that happens, students lose interest in training and are in danger of leaving the school.

Student engagement depends on your ability to continually provide a new challenge while also demonstrating their progress. Since engagement and retention are directly linked, we think attendance should matter very much in the process of belt promotions.


Looking additional ways to keep your students coming back? Get your copy of our free guide, Four Essential Strategies for Student Retention.

martial arts student retention guide

Shilo Lucyk

Shilo Lucyk

In her spare time Shilo enjoys teaching yoga classes, doing CrossFit® and reading anything she can get her hands on.

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