Four Ways To Solve Public Education’s Multi-Million Dollar Data Problem
The public education sector is facing a growing problem related to data. It’s a problem that’s costing schools and education agencies millions of dollars every year – millions of dollars that could be spent providing a better education for our children.
As you saw in our previous article (check it out here if you haven’t already), schools and education agencies waste time and money because of the inefficient way they handle their data. They are forced to use multiple applications which wastes time and money when sorting and filtering data to create meaningful reports for stakeholders’ use.
And each year as inefficiencies creep into the system, this problem becomes more and more expensive to handle. We need a solution if we don’t want to keep taking valuable resources away from our schools, teachers, and children.
So what can you and your agency or school do to help with this problem?
Here are four different methods to tackle this issue. As you’ll notice, several of the solutions solve only some of the data management inefficiencies, while there’s one solution that truly is the best option for schools and agencies alike.
Let’s have a look.
Four Things Your School or Agency Can Do to Manage Data Inefficiencies
1. Hire a Data Analyst
As we saw in the previous article (read it here), schools are required to track huge amounts of data – everything from lesson plans to attendance records to performance reports, and more. This data is often tracked by multiple programs – one for attendance, another for homework, etc.
A data analyst streamlines this process by helping schools pull the raw numbers from the different sources, sort through them, and then merge them into a usable format. This usable format gives schools valuable insight to make better decisions for their students and generate necessary reports.
The analyst will also work to format the data into the necessary reports required by agencies like the DC Public Charter School Board (PCSB) and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).
And then if any issues arise with the quality of the data on these reports, the analyst can serve as a liaison between the school and agencies to solve these issues.
Problems: Although the data analyst streamlines some of the school’s data management, it’s not cheap. A typical data analyst will charge around $80,000 per year. This is in addition to the hundreds of thousands of dollars a school may already spend on software licenses for the programs needed to initially collect that data.
Many smaller schools can’t afford a data analyst which means someone on the school staff ends up assuming that role. It’s a big and highly technical job which takes the staff’s time away from other core educational activities.
And as considered in the previous article, this data still needs to be formatted into multiple reports for different agencies. This leads us to our second fix that would simplify this part of the puzzle.
2. Merge Education Agencies
Public schools regularly have to submit performance reports to multiple agencies. In the case of DC area charter schools, these are the DC Public Charter School Board (PCSB) and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). They review and monitor schools to ensure they are compliant with the various legislative policies and requirements.
But instead of requesting a single type of report, each of these organizations requires performance reports to be submitted in several pre-specified formats. This means schools have to hire data analysts to compile and format their data specifically for each of these agencies. Doesn’t all this seem cumbersome?
So why not just have one specific agency? Schools would only have to prepare one performance report at the end of the year. They would only have to answer to one agency. It would be much simpler and require less time for a data analyst to compile this report, thus reducing the burden placed on schools.
Problems: Merging two different agencies like the OSSE and PCSB is not an easy task. Existing legislation, politics, and a mountain of red tape would make this unlikely to happen. And even if agencies like these were merged, it doesn’t eliminate the need for a data analyst.
Schools still need to hire someone or use one of their staff to process this data, especially if it’s coming from multiple software programs. But could something be done to streamline the programs schools use to track their data? Yes, and this leads us to solution number three.
3. Use One Student Information Software
Instead of using one program to track attendance, another for student performance, and yet another for special intervention plans, why not use one single program to track all of this?
Teachers wouldn’t have to log in to multiple platforms to enter information. School staff wouldn’t need to spend valuable time learning how to use new programs. And the job of the data analyst would be reduced to the preparation of the required performance reports for each education agency.
Problems: Such a comprehensive program is very difficult to find. Most programs that offer multiple tracking modules still end up lacking one or two that a school really needs. Others provide so many options – most of which a school may never use – that the software becomes complicated and overwhelming for the staff to use.
And regardless of the data output format, the school will still have to hire a data analyst to reformat it for the education agencies.
But what if there were a solution that could address all of these issues – education agency reports, student tracking, and the need for a data analyst? Check out the fourth solution.
4. Use an Enterprise System That Does It All
Imagine an enterprise system that would solve all of these problems at once.
A school could use one software program to track everything – no data analyst required. One platform would be used to:
- Track, share, and grade lesson plans
- Track attendance
- Maintain student profiles
- Print report cards
- Build custom curriculums
- View current student performance
- Have multiple portals for students, parents, staff and more
Then when it’s time to generate performance reports for the education agencies, with the click of a button a correctly formatted performance report is automatically generated. No need to spend thousands of dollars hiring someone to compile, clean, and format this data.
How could an enterprise system like this help education agencies?
Instead of the PCSB and OSSE spending hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on teams of analysts and expensive programs to validate schools’ data, an enterprise system with an agency portal would automatically update performance reports each year there’s a change in data.
This would save taxpayers money, reduce the burden on these agencies, and allow this money to be invested back into the public school system.
Does such an enterprise system exist?
Ed-Intelligence – The Future of Student Information Systems
We’d like to introduce you to Ed-Intelligence. Schools and agencies who want to finally bring public education into the 21st century will soon be using Ed-Intelligence. It does exactly what you and your school or agency needs it to do – save time and money so we can all focus on inspiring the next generation.
Want to learn more about Ed-Intelligence’s features and how it has the power to transform the public education experience?
Check out our next article now to learn more!