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What to Consider Before Switching School Data Systems


From the classroom to the business office, schools generate loads of data year-round. Adding technology to automate tedious tasks and improve processes has been on the top of many administrators’ “to-do” lists in recent years. However, it’s due to the sheer volume of these critical data points, and how rapidly they change in school districts, that makes changing software providers feel like an impossible undertaking.

If you’re anything like your peers, there will inevitably come a time when you’re at a crossroad with your current tech set-up and whether or not it’s time to switch vendors. Here are a few important aspects about the uniqueness of school district data that you should consider before making the decision to migrate or convert to a new system.

Role-based Permissions & Access to Data

Your district needs flexibility to define who has access to what information at any given time. This is due to the sensitive nature of student information, HR, finance and payroll data. So, whether you’re evaluating processes for the first time, or considering adopting new technology in your district, you’ll want to consider how much control you’ll gain or continue to have over data.

If a system can’t facilitate sophisticated user types and permissions, is it really going to work for a school district’s needs? For example, most teachers typically only have access to information related to students on their rosters; however, what happens when you have a nurse who should see all student information or a special teacher who should have access to just a few kids in a spectrum of classes not directly aligned with any particular uniform schedule?

Will you have the ability to grant and restrict access to data based on each individual user’s needs?

To take it a step further, can your potential new system of record map all of the data that’s been collected to the appropriate fields in the new records? If it’s generic corporate software… do those fields even exist out of the box? What happens to historical data and archived records?

Reporting & Data Formats

In order to have accurate reporting on the backend of your daily processes, you need to have correct data collection formats and processes implemented on the frontend. Otherwise, you end up spending tons of time reconciling reports and correcting errors for each submission throughout the year. It’s not that you’re trying to replace people with software, it’s that you want to free your people from tedious, repetitive, manual data entry and validation tasks to focus on the higher impact elements of their role within the district.

So, when your considering technology to improve your processes you want to avoid the pitfall of paper processes or generic software that wasn’t designed with K-12 as a core focus. Why? Because it slows down your data and limits your staff from being effective contributors on your team.

It’s because of the strict regulations and demands on data and reporting for local, state and federal agencies that it’s so important for your data collection to be clean to ensure accurate reporting.

Nichelle Smith

Nichelle Smith is a Product Marketing Manager for Frontline Education. With her Master's degree in Education and being a former educator, Nichelle loves to explore all things "edtech"!

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