An LDS can be designed to make everyday operations more efficient, thereby freeing staff to spend more time focusing on students and less on data entry. Interoperability and data sharing among a school's various data systems, for instance, eliminate the need for redundant data entry and, at the same time, limit entry errors. Consolidating data into a unified system can also eliminate redundancy. In addition, aligning data definitions among schools and districts will result in more consistency and improve data quality. And automating mandated state and federal reports will also reduce data burden and free up resources and staff time for more student-centered work and analysis.
|Small gestures, big impact
The simplest of tools may turn out to be the most appreciated. One state education agency learned this lesson when it used its LDS to quickly and easily produce student lists by school. These simple lists were very popular in the state, as they showed schools which students they were responsible for each year and helped decrease the burden on local staff. While agencies may spend a lot of time and money developing electronic data access and analysis tools, the value of basic lists and reports should not be underestimated.
Staff should know that an LDS is not just another system into which they will load data for the state and federal government. In fact, the primary purpose of an LDS should be to help improve school- and district-level operations, and classroom-level instruction. An LDS can facilitate a quick and easy exchange of data—from the local users to the state, to the federal government, and back. Today, many local agencies provide the state and federal government with required data. Often, these agencies never see these data again. If they do, in the form of, for example, a report comparing districts in the state, a year or more might have passed. With an LDS, these data may quickly be made available to the local users in a number of formats, from sophisticated reporting and analysis tools, to standardized reports, to basic lists. The simplest tools are often the most appreciated.