Can You Trust Your Data? 5 Questions Every District Data Manager Should Ask.

School districts of all sizes are striving to make better use of their information for data-driven decisions. But what if your data is inaccurate, inconsistent or incomplete? What if you just can’t depend on it? Poor data quality is not only inconvenient, but it can have serious consequences that impact student progress, state funding and a school district’s reputation.

With the need to better understand how your people, processes and technologies intersect with your data, here are 5 questions district data managers should be asking:

  1. Is my data complete and consistent across all applications? It’s important to have policies and processes in place and to follow a strict methodology to ensure consistency across the organization. Without a data management plan, missing or incomplete data can skew results, giving false implications to data analysts, teachers and parents.
  2. Does my data support organizational efforts to maximize state and federal funding? Having accurate counts in your student information system (SIS) for special populations such as homeless, free and reduced lunch, English language learners, special education, foster and others can impact the level of funding and program support that is received. Monitoring state requirements and validating your data on a regular basis can support compliance and submission efforts. 
  1. How much time do I spend correcting errors for state reporting submissions? Many state reporting systems require specific data points that a district must accurately supply on a regular basis. When those data fields are inaccurate or missing it can result in a significant amount of time to correct and puts funding at risk. A good practice is to regularly check the data on a daily or weekly basis so that state reporting deadlines are easily met.
  2. Does my school district have a person or team that sponsors data quality efforts? Having a data quality sponsor in IT and other departments can help to ensure that your district is collecting the right data and that there is integrity to the data. It’s important to clearly define who has responsibility to own the quality of the data, even if the IT department happens to be the custodian of that data. Taking it a step further, some districts are considering a data governance program which can provide coordinated and systemic oversight of data-related decisions throughout the organization.
  1. How can I validate if the data in my district information system is accurate? Having technology that can automatically deliver real-time counts and validate district data in key areas such as attendance, discipline, enrollment or demographics demonstrates accountability and saves time.

If your district is focused on improving your data to ensure accuracy, you may be ready for a data quality application to support your district’s data quality or state submission initiatives.

Find out how the Los Angeles Unified School District improved their data quality program using the Certify™ data quality application. Read the case study.

Certify™ is a web-based data quality application that continually validates databases for business rule integrity, data quality requirements and potential compliance issues. Centralized, automated and designed to validate hundreds of millions of records each day, Certify enables organizations to detect data problems quickly and allows data owners to take immediate action in resolving or correcting errors.

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