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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

Determine what types of data will be needed based on the potential uses you have identified.

Step 3 : Select the overall contents of the student record system

Identifying the contents of a student record system is a very important step in designing a system. It is important to identify the data categories that are essential to the functioning of the education system. It is also important to look at reporting requirements to see what data must be provided. Then, you can make plans to collect and maintain the data needed for each data category. As was mentioned before, an important role of a student record system is to provide educators with the information they need to make decisions about providing instruction and services to individual students and groups of students. A good place to start is to think about what are the different types of decisions that have to be made about students.

Uses and regulations together help to determine the contents of a student record system. Data categories are the areas of information to be kept or excluded. Typical data categories included in school and district student record systems are:

  • Personal information (e.g., student and family background).
  • Enrollment and attendance information.
  • School participation and activities (e.g., courses taken, grades).
  • Non-school and post-school experience (e.g., planned college attendance).
  • Assessment information and results.
  • Transportation.
  • Health conditions.
  • Special program participation and student support services received.
  • Discipline information.

It should be noted that certain data, such as data about staff and schools, are not generally kept in the student record, but rather are available to be merged or linked with student data for certain types of analyses.

The desired categories should be clearly defined before beginning Step 4 to ensure that all areas are covered in the student record system and to eliminate unnecessary duplication. A key to achieving the benefits described earlier is to enter data once by having one single place to enter or update each type of data. This will ensure that data elements needed for more than one purpose are not maintained differently in various files.

Selecting Data to Collect

One state education agency held many meetings to decide what categories of data it wanted to receive in the individual student records it would be collecting from schools. Among the types of information it hoped to obtain were data related to student participation in various state and federal programs, assessment data, and demographic data. A long list of data elements was identified, far longer than the Department knew was practical when just starting to collect student records. With the assistance of various committees, the Department was able to prioritize the data elements into two levels, essential and desirable. Department staff decided to begin collecting only the data elements identified as essential.

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