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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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Develop canned programs for standard reporting. Ad hoc reporting capability is also useful.

Step 11 : Plan procedures for doing standard and ad hoc analysis and reporting.

To the extent possible, it is good to have "canned" programs to produce reports that are done on a regular basis, such as attendance reports, program reports, and summary enrollment counts. Having these reports preprogrammed means that when they must be produced, someone can do a few simple steps to produce the reports. The turnaround time on these reports will be minimal, and there is a higher probability that they will be produced correctly, since the program will be the same one used previously. Care must be taken, however, that changes are made to the standard programs when reporting requirements change.

It is impossible, however, to anticipate every type of analysis or report that you may want to produce from your automated student record system. As a result, you will want to have the capability to do ad hoc reporting from your system. If possible, it is a good idea to build in this type of reporting capability so that extensive programming will not be needed at the time the ad hoc report is needed. The ad hoc capability can be built into your overall system, or you could extract data and do your analysis and reporting using a software package such as Excel, Access, SPSS, or SAS. Static analytical databases should be updated as needed, such as one or more times during the school year.

One area you should consider is whether or not you will be using a dynamic database for ad hoc analyses. If you do, you may have problems reproducing your results, since the database may change between analyses. Many school districts and state education agencies prefer to use "point-in-time" or static databases for their analyses. Often these static databases include only a subset (or extract) of the data in the full student records. One advantage to using extract files for doing analyses and reporting is that you may be using a smaller data set than the entire population of your organization. If you must use all of your student records, you may need to run your reports after work hours so that computer time will not be taken away from others who need to use the system.

As with other steps, it is important to provide training to persons who will be producing the reports if they are not the ones responsible for programming the system. Clear documentation of the steps required for producing the report is helpful. In addition, it is a good idea to have staff members available to assist when reports are being produced in case something should go

Consequences of Poor Data Quality

One large city school district discovered that large amounts of state and federal money were not received one year because of errors in how the data were maintained in the student record system and how the reports were produced. Since individual student records were sent to the state education agency, it was important that all relevant program participation be noted on the student records. That year, when the records were sent to the state, no one bothered to do basic checks on program participation rates and other relevant statistics. Consequently, it was not noticed that there were no students coded as Title I program participants, resulting in the loss of many dollars for the district.

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