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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
Step 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5Step 6Step 7Step 8Step 9Step 10Step 11Step 12


Step 1. Determine the desired uses of the student record system.

A critical first step is the needs assessment. You should attempt to identify all potential system users and bring them together to determine the most important uses and desirable features of the student record system. This will help to determine your response to each of the next eleven steps. It is not critical to identify all of the potential uses; when your system is up and running, you may find many new uses for the system. It is, however, important to identify as many uses as possible, so you can ensure that the system will contain all of the data you need, will provide for all of the analyses you need to do, and will be flexible enough to meet your changing needs. To help you identify all potential uses, you may want to convene a committee consisting of representatives of the different types of people who will be users of the system once it is in place, or those who are currently using the existing system. Examples of potential users are principals, counselors, teachers, and researchers/evaluators. With the assistance of your committee, you should prioritize the uses and develop a statement of purpose and objectives.

Student record systems are generally used for one of three purposes:
To support administration of the education organization
To provide data needed for state and federal reporting.
To evaluate the quality and effectiveness of educational     programs.

The identification of user needs is essential to the selection of the most appropriate data system solution.

Step 1a. Identify uses of the system.

The student record system should have multiple uses and meet the needs of different types of education staff. At the local level, counselors use student records to make decisions about courses a student should take and to assist with problems that may arise. Teachers use student records to help make instructional decisions and to obtain specific information that may assist in working with a student. Principals and other school district officials use aggregate data obtained from student records to make policy decisions and to plan curriculum, instructional services, staffing, and facilities. Research staff use student data to evaluate the success of various programs and interventions. Reporting to the school board, parents, and the public is another use. Many state education agencies collect individual student records for all of the students in the state to assist with monitoring accountability and future planning.

Perhaps the most critical use of student records is the decision making about instruction and services to be provided to the student. Ensuring that the student's record follows him or her when a school change is made is essential. The adoption of a coordinated student record system within a school district can help to ensure that students' records are transmitted to receiving schools when they move or are promoted to a different school.

Transmitting student records electronically across district lines and to postsecondary institutions is facilitated by the adoption of a standard format for sending and receiving student records. A nationally recognized standard format is called SPEEDE/ExPRESS (SPEEDE stands for Standardization of Postsecondary Education Electronic Data Exchange, and ExPRESS stands for Exchange of Permanent Records Electronically for Students and Schools.). Developed through a consensus process by representatives of elementary/secondary and postsecondary education, SPEEDE/ExPRESS is a standard format for the contents of a student transcript and other related information (e.g., health conditions) that should be forwarded when a student moves to another school or applies to a postsecondary institution. SPEEDE/ExPRESS was developed to facilitate rapid, direct electronic exchange of student records between computers. The SPEEDE/ExPRESS format increasingly is being used by postsecondary institutions and even some businesses for sending and receiving student records. While not yet widely adopted at the K-12 level, there are some school districts that transmit student records in the SPEEDE/ExPRESS format to postsecondary institutions. [See the Resource List for information on how to learn more about SPEEDE/ExPRESS.]

Step 1b. Prioritize uses.

Once users have been polled and critical uses identified, it is a good idea to rank them from essential to optional. There may be resource limitations (e.g., money, computer capability, or staff) that cause you to implement your system in stages, so identifying essential uses will help you to know where to begin. Timing is also a critical aspect, as there are periods of time in school calendars that are too busy to implement new activities.

Step 1c. Develop a statement of purpose and objectives.

At this point, you may want to develop a statement of purpose and objectives for the student record system, so that all potential users (and even non-users) will know what the system is expected to accomplish. In this statement, you should list any logical connections with other administrative software as well as describe how it fits into your organization's overall information technology plan.

Different uses may call for a design with separate files, or separate areas within a file, but the ability to integrate information across locations is necessary. Step 1 merely delineates and describes all the potential uses of the student record system. With these uses ranked from essential to optional, Step 2 can begin.

Florida's Solution for the Transmission of Student Records

The state of Florida is committed to the efficient exchange of student information among education organizations. To this end, it has developed a proprietary format for the electronic transmission of student records among elementary, secondary and postsecondary schools. In order to allow for electronic transmission across state lines, the proprietary format has been crosswalked into the SPEEDE/ExPRESS format at the state level. Thus, students applying to the University of Texas at Austin from the Dade County (FL) School District can have their transcripts sent electronically to the Florida Information Resource Network where it is translated into the SPEEDE/ExPRESS format for transmission to the University of Texas. Other states are now looking at state-wide adoption of SPEEDE/ExPRESS for the transmission of student records outside of district boundaries.

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