Deciding that SchoolStatus is the right Education Data Analysis package for you is just the first step in managing data for your school district. Now it’s time to get it set up! For smaller organizations with a simple use case and one person handling all the details, implementation may be a breeze. For more complex use cases, we recommend that you create a checklist – that way your team can plan ahead, and then work through each stage with confidence, knowing that you can avoid and/or overcome any unforeseen issues.
Here’s a checklist that will help you get a better picture of your implementation strategy:
Make some initial preparations. Planning saves time!
- Have a list of all your assessment packages ready, so that you can compare it to what the SchoolStatus can display. This would include your statewide assessments for the last 4 years, as well as ACT scores and any benchmark testing sources that you may be using.
- Think about your Student Information System, and what data flags you’d like for us to display on the individual student page, like SPED, Gifted or Economically Disadvantaged status.
- Review our System Requirements information. Ask our Data Integration Specialist for our System Requirements. Then, meet with your Technology Director to confirm that your users will have the hardware they need, and get an ETA from them on any adjustments that may need to be made on your side.
- Review your internal data handling policy. It may sound like a no-brainer, but in order to display and continuously update your data, we need access to your data. We are happy to provide a document that lays out our security measures in detail. This is a great time to reassure your information gatekeepers that you want them to share access, in the most secure, reliable way possible. It's also a great opportunity to go over some best practices for data handling with your whole team, like why it is a bad idea to send usernames and passwords in an email (because emails can be shared) or why your team should never email student data records containing student names (because, FERPA).
Choose your implementation team. Let's do this!
- Invite your District Administrators. You may want to start your talks with your Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Technical Director, District Test Coordinator, Federal Programs Coordinator, Data Analyst, Curriculum or SPED Coordinator and Professional Development Coordinator, and then pare down the list to the "action" people when implementation time comes.
- Include administrators who have access to your assessment portals, especially those who can create data export user accounts, provide credentials or access files for your state and benchmark assessments.
- Determine who will handle employee user account creation. This person will provide us with employee email addresses, official job titles and school locations (scope of access) for your user accounts, and help us define who needs which features based on their work roles.
- Choose a training communications coordinator. This person would facilitate sending out email invitations, notifications and reminders prior to training can help your sessions be well-attended.
- Pick your School Point of Contact (SPOC), a key staff member who will provide SchoolStatus support for your users, and be the point person between your district and SchoolStatus as questions about permissions or issues arise.
Get your Data Loaded. It's all happening!
Note: SchoolStatus designs very specific secure procedures for districts to use when transferring credentials and files to us. For security purposes, please advise your staff not to send us login credentials (usernames and passwords for data sources) or student data files by email.
- Integrating your Data from your Student Information System (SIS) and your various assessment packages happens after your district gives SchoolStatus access to your data sources. Here are the three common methods we use for obtaining access to your data:
a) Direct Access: A district administrator creates a new user account for SchoolStatus, so we can log into the data source portal, just like a district-level employee would, and export a data file. We then automate a process to login, export, upload and display fresh data on a routine basis. Downside: Creating a new user account may not be an option with every data source.
b) Proxy Access: A district administrator provides existing credentials (their personal username and password) for SchoolStatus to borrow. This is the next best method when Direct Integration is not an option. Downside: Access chain fails when the account owner changes their personal password or if the account is closed.
c) File Uploads: A district administrator drops official files from an original source to upload.schoolstatus.com. Downside: Files must be manually updated, requiring the district to be proactive in uploading data when new files arrive.
- Data Integration. Using the methods described above, we access and load your data. This can be a complex process, but except for providing credentials, not much action is required on your part- so the waiting may be the hardest part! Allow about two weeks (less if you have very few integrations and no issues, more if the list is long and/or hiccups occur).
- Data verification and SPOC Training. The SPOC confirms that the data is loading accurately while the Data Integration Specialist introduces the SPOC to a "sneak peek" of the features. Expect some communication during this phase; it may happen in one quick phone call, or it may take place over several sessions while data is being loaded.
Rollout! Introducing your new Data Analysis Tool to your Educators
- Schedule training dates for your administrators and teachers. Make it fun! Encourage users to attend by stressing the benefits of being able to use SchoolStatus immediately after training. Consider making the time a little more social for teachers by offering cookies and lemonade, or snacks and coffee with an assortment of creamers.
- Compile a list of all of your employees. Include their job titles, email addresses, and their scope (district-wide data, or limited by school). Then, share this list with us, so we can talk about modules they should have based on their job titles, and determine those who may not need accounts. Tip: This will help you decide which training is best for non-teacher employees, like Attendance Clerks, Counselors, Librarians, or Interventionists.)
- Create User Accounts prior to sessions, usually one week ahead of training. Tip: Ask us if this can be automated- one less task for you to do!
- Start an email sequence introducing users to the new product!
You may want to take a five step approach to your Rollout. Feel free to mimic our "Welcome" email, use the company logo or include a photo and bio of your trainer:
a) Four weeks out: Send a teaser or "save the date" email to build excitement.
b) Two weeks out: Send the invitation, with simple when/where details.
c) One week out: They'll automatically get a Welcome email if you create the account one week before training.
d) Day or two before: Send a friendly reminder email, same as the invitation.
e) Within the first week after: You may want to send a "Thank you" for attending, with instructions on how to get support if they have questions or issues. It's also a good time to send a survey link, if you want to include one.
Maintenance phase: Keep on keeping on!
- SPOC can help with make-up trainings. We recommend to SPOCs that they observe during both Administrator and Teacher training sessions, and try to arrange a make-up training with users who were unable to attend. (This is great reinforcement training for the SPOC, too.) After the introductory phase, we can help identify users who have never logged in, so that the SPOC can reach out or assist with any login issues.
- Ongoing SPOC duties throughout the year. As the in-house person providing support for users, your SPOC will need to know how to perform basic User Admin functions, like account creation. The SPOC will also be responsible for maintaining data integrations. When we need to confirm that new data is auto-loading correctly, or if we spot a "red flag" on a user account, the SPOC will be our go-to person.
- SPOC and Help are friends. Some SPOCs prefer to provide 100% of their internal SchoolStatus support for their users; others like to manage simple fixes and forward issues to us. Still others encourage all of their users to reach out to us directly for everything. We are here to support you in whatever way you need to be supported, because, really, that's what support is all about.
With this implementation guide, you should have a smooth transition! Let us know if you have other suggestions - we'd love to include them, to help the next district in making their SchoolStatus implementation process a success!