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Approved COVID-19 Funding Sources for RealTime Reports

March 29, 2021 at 4:06 PM

There is no question that in the near future, oodles and oodles of cash will be flowing into local school districts nationwide thanks to recent federal legislation.

What is in question, however:

  • how can local districts strategize to get their fair share?
  • how will they build a plan to maximize the proverbial pot of gold for the good of their students’ Health & Safety, Learning Losses and Mental Wellness long term?
  • and just as critically, how will districts provide proof the funds were properly utilized when filing the inevitable federal and state spending reports coming down the road?

Despite the relief of knowing that serious money is on the way, challenges for school districts are just beginning.

Eligible Funding Sources for RealTime Reports

RealTime Report Funding Source
Student Access to Technology ESSER Funds
CARES (3/20)
Covid Relief (12/20)
American Rescue Plan (3/21)

Gradebook Grades Analysis

CARES (3/20)
Covid Relief (12/20)
American Rescue Plan (3/21)
Special Programs Title 1
Transportation ESSER Funds
CARES (3/20)
Covid Relief (12/20)
American Rescue Plan (3/21)


What’s concerning is most school districts’ lack of understanding of how to put processes in place to maximize their share.

Most districts have also never had to report on such initiatives before, so they would not have clear, full ‘buy-in’ procedures to develop best practices for planning, and then providing, accurate information.

The Fed is, and will be, asking for data to be merged and viewed in ways that school districts have never been obligated to do previously.

Imagine how much extra staff time will be needed to carry on, at least based on past methods and protocols. For school districts operating PowerSchool for their SIS, staff will not only be able to manage the new demands, but staff time can be saved as much as 90 percent – with easy-to-use new plug-ins through preferred data vendor Level Data.

Level Data has been partnering with districts nationwide for over a decade to give them straightforward, intuitive and lightning-fast results for creating validated, data-generating reports.

Level Data’s system, processes and data rules provide the power of effortless data extraction for planning and reporting, from information that’s stored deep within your PowerSchool SIS.

Using an ongoing service from Level Data called RealTime Reports – which have been available for more than two years but fall under the allowable use of new federal funding – school districts can cultivate information from their data inside PowerSchool and quickly extrapolate all that’s needed to address every issue listed above.

What’s more important, is it’s so easy and intuitive for non-data experts in the schools to use it.

Some two-dozen-plus reporting categories include:

  • Attendance Summaries;
  • Gradebook Analysis;
  • Contact Tracing;
  • Mapping Student Home Addresses;
  • Student Access to Technology;
  • Incident Management;
  • Lunch Status;
  • And so many more.

In just one of many examples of Federal funding guidelines, according to Phyllis Jordan of FutureEd, at least 20 percent of the money provided in the American Rescue Plan must be spent to address lost learning.

The law specifically mentions the need to administer high quality assessments to determine academic needs, implement evidence-based practices, support students and families in distance learning, track student attendance and engagement during remote instruction, and monitor student academic progress to identify students who need more help.

“Now, federal dollars can be used to get the entire staff moving toward the new model of data utilization,” said Matt Betts, president of Level Data. “It’s affordable, it’s intuitive, and it’s got a lot of immediate reporting capabilities that are totally relevant in today’s education field. It’s going to help capture additional funding as well, mostly by identifying pockets of disadvantaged kids.”

The ease of diving inside PowerSchool is the secret of RealTime Reports.

In a recent conversation, a school district IT Director talked about a Covid-19 kids-at-risk assessment requested by the District Superintendent. The task: provide a report showing a list of at-risk students not passing their classes, during the date range of Covid-19, and break it down by grade level, ethnicity, and virtual vs. in-person learning, among a few other categories.

Their IT team was able to pull all the information out of PowerSchool, but it took 2 people 3 days to generate such a report. During the time frame they were explaining this assigned task, a Level Data demonstrator utilized a trio of RealTime Report categories to create the same report in 5 minutes, complete with categorized lists, pie graphs and charts.

“School districts now more than ever need to use data,” Betts added. “They need a vehicle for staff (like principals, counselors and curriculum developers) to be curious to look at their data, to do it without worrying they could damage the SIS and have it be super intuitive, super easy to use, and very beneficial with real information. It’s there right now, without a lot of professional development. It’s something you don’t need a Master’s Degree in data to utilize and get answers to your questions. This is where it all starts.”

Tom Lang
Written by Tom Lang

Tom Lang has spent more than 3 decades in the field of journalism and marketing, while always having a hand in public education. His father was a school teacher, his mom a school secretary, and his wife teaches high school English and Humanities. On his own, Tom worked his way through college as a school bus driver and today remains closely tied to education as a Board member of FIRST (Robotics) in Michigan. He has worked with high school coaches and athletes for nearly 30 years as a freelance sports writer at the Detroit Free Press, and for more than 10 years as a basketball referee. Bottom line -- help kids grow, learn and create productive futures.

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