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Building An Automated Record System : Back to Home National Forum on Education Statistics
Introduction Purpose of this Booklet Contents of this Booklet Description of a Student Record Description of a Student Record System Benefits of a Well-Designed Automated Student Record System Steps for Designing and Implementing an Automated Student Record System Summary Resource List
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Student records contain information needed to make effective decisions about instruction and student services.

Description of Student Records

A student record is, by definition, any written information about a student. Student records can be described in terms of their contents (e.g., courses taken, grade point averages), use (e.g., identifying students eligible for the free lunch program), and storage medium (e.g., a manila file folder). The maintenance of extensive, accurate, historical, and current data about individual students is essential to the functioning of schools and school districts, and can promote effective educational practices at all levels of the education system.

The contents of the student record are determined by the uses of the records. Typical contents may include family information, courses taken and grades, special program participation information, immunization records, assessment scores, extracurricular activities, and other information that is used by the education system to promote student success and provide appropriate services. Some of this information should be standard across classrooms, schools, districts, and states, while other information can be unique to the particular classroom, school, or district.

Student records are used for many important educational purposes, including instruction and guidance decisions; monitoring compliance with attendance and health laws; and administrative purposes, such as determining tuition status, scheduling students into classes, planning school bus routes, monitoring program completion, and completing reports for local, state, and federal authorities. The student record usually contains the information necessary for each of these purposes at the school or district level. Instructional management systems are frequently linked to student record systems to provide more analytical capability for teachers and administrators. These systems allow for student learning plans, individualized education plans (IEPs), portfolios, and other student products to be stored and retrieved for instructional decision-making and achievement monitoring.

A student record may be kept on file in a classroom, school office, school district office, intermediate agency, state education agency, or other approved location. The record may contain information collected from the student (or family); from teachers and other school staff; and from other sources outside the school, such as health care providers or testing companies. The record for a student may be stored in a central location (such as a school computer) for the convenience of anyone with authorized access and a need to obtain information; or there may be a separate paper or computer record maintained by each person who has contact with a student. Some parts of the record may even be stored outside the school, as happens when student health records are stored and maintained by the local public health service, or when state test scores are stored and maintained at the state education agency. No matter where the student records are stored, procedures must be in place to ensure that access is granted only to authorized individuals and that only authorized individuals have the capacity to maintain (update) the records.

Student records traditionally have been kept only at the school or district level. In recent years, however, many state education agencies have begun to collect individual student records. State-level records typically consist of data about student characteristics, program participation and assessment results--a subset of the data usually maintained at the school and district levels. The purposes of state-level databases are to promote continuous improvement in schools, plan for program changes to help students achieve high standards, distribute funds, and hold schools and districts accountable for student achievement. Most of the information included in state-level databases comes directly from schools and districts, and the information may be transmitted electronically among levels of the state's school system.

In summary, a complete student record may be a single file, or it can be made up of several separate records, each with specific content or uses and each stored and maintained in a different way.

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