Fred Sharpsteen does not get too excited over new technology designed for schools after a quarter-century of seeing things come and go.
So, it could be called a big deal that his attention was seriously grabbed before the 2021 school year started. He came across a new software available that interfaces with Skyward's Student Information System (SIS) – so much so he volunteered for the Mecosta-Osceola ISD in Michigan where he is Director of Technology – to test pilot the entire process. Joe Bouman, Director of Technology for Big Rapids Public Schools, is also working with Sharpsteen and the software developer, Level Data, Inc. to pilot its State Data Validation Suite.
My first impression is this seems to be a game-changer...
"My first impression is this seems to be a game-changer, and here is why: I've been doing technology education for 25 years, and I don't get overly excited about any (new) technology anymore," Sharpsteen said. "But I'm excited about this because data governance has been a huge issue for a good portion of my 25 years – ever since data became more important to schools, the states, and the federal government for pupil accounting. Having accurate data with fidelity (reporting information the same, continuously) is key to making data-driven decisions."
Among many needs, Sharpsteen has tried for decades to find a process for eliminating wasted hours and multiple days of time tediously creating excel spreadsheets combing data from various sources.
He believes he found the answer in Level Data.
This tool allows me to quickly assess where we are at as far as data entry, and then secondly for accuracy and maybe even fidelity, because I can see (fields) that don't have data or need data, so I can use this tool to fill in those fields.
"I was looking for tools to be able to do this kind of thing because there are not a lot of tools to do, 1) the live entry portion, where you have the highlighted fields so that there's an indicator that maybe something's not the way the district wants it, and 2) a tool so you can look at all the aggregated data and quickly assess what kind of accuracy there is."
Level Data is an affordable addition for any district that enables virtually anyone on a school district's staff to report State compliance data more accurately and according to each State's unique reporting requirement. The system has checks and balances with the district's data – where color indicators of red, yellow and green are then displayed automatically, and instantaneously detects data errors, potential data errors or valid, correct data, respectively, per color.
Sharpsteen added: "Most school districts have a high turnover of staff in the data entry positions, and without having a tool to help them to make sure the data is being entered accurately and with fidelity, we will never get to a point of making good data-driven decisions."