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Head-to-Head: Level Data vs. Certica for Data Validation Speed and Accuracy

November 9, 2021 at 1:39 PM

Human error during data entry into any School District’s SIS still today remains one of the most problematic issues for keeping student and staff data clean and accurate. And it’s only getting worse as many districts nationwide have begun to allow parents to register their child online.

It's mostly due to human error that data lacks consistency and accuracy for examples like ‘Street’ vs. ‘St.’ or ‘Court’ vs. ‘Ct.’ and so on and so forth in dozens of categories. Such tiny differences in the everyday world; yet they cause havoc in data filtering and State Reporting, for example.

Now more than ever, quickly and intuitively finding and fixing such data errors for accuracy in state reporting for thousands of students is essential. Cleaning up such ‘dirty data’ still boils down to time and money-saving over-burdened staff time and maximizing district funding.

Level Data provided real-time notification resulting in more errors being corrected, and improved efficiency.

In 2021, school districts have transitioned away from Certica Solutions Certify software and switched to Level Data, Inc. based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Both solutions provide data validation, but the user experience could not be more different between the two offerings. Certica emails a report each night that requires assignment to a staff person and corrections to be made sometime after the email arrives. 

However, Level Data’s State Data Validation Suite and RealTime Reports allow users to correct errors in real-time 24/7/365, right on the computer screen.  As soon as data is entered or changed in PowerSchool, fields are analyzed, errors are flagged, and corrections can be made immediately.

“We were using Certica, but it was after the fact notifications,” said Geoff Warner, chief technology officer of the 13,000-student Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District outside of San Francisco, CA. “Level Data provided real-time notification resulting in more errors being corrected, and improved efficiency."

“We saw great improvement in terms of identifying and correcting errors along with easy-to-use reporting.”

David Brunsting, director of SIS for Indianapolis Public Schools, the largest district in the state of Indiana, said a reason they switched away from Certica to Level Data was because Certica’s error alert system only provided once daily updates via email, and required the district to keep a spreadsheet on staff handling the corrections. Whereas with Level Data, all questionable data being flagged, and the ensuing corrections made, are done in real-time on the computer screen.

We saw great improvement in terms of identifying and correcting errors along with easy-to-use reporting.

“We have to have some way to look for bad data, and I haven’t seen any other program or competitor out there that does what Level Data does,” Brunsting said. “And it’s not a ton of money against our budget. I think it’s exactly what we need. It’s always done what I thought it would.”

Brunsting praised the fact his district has school secretaries and registrars who are possessive about getting and maintaining all their data 100 percent accurate as possible.

“I like the fact that it warns us,” Brunsting said about the Level Data system that flags incorrect data with the color red, questionable data with the color yellow, and fully validated correct data with green. “I love that component of it. It’s simple. And we have end users (registrars, secretaries) who are really into making sure they have all green checkmarks.”

Level Data’s State Data Validation Suite (SDVS) and RealTime Reports – How they work:

SDVS is interactive, showing a summary of errors in the State Validation screen.  If a user is signed in at District Office, they will see a summarized screen showing errors for the entire district.  If they are logged into a school, they will only see errors regarding students that are enrolled there.

SDVS allows for users to correct errors, when they see them, year-round.  As soon as data is entered or changed in PowerSchool, fields will be analyzed, and errors will be flagged.

SDVS allows for users to correct up to ten records at a time, greatly reducing the amount of time it takes them to correct bad data.  Users have reported that they have saved 75% of the amount of time they had spent in the past correcting bad data.

SDVS helps users reduce the number of errors they have on the first submission of data to their State offices.

SDVS is built into PowerSchool, so there is no wasted time navigating to individual students when there is a potential error in the records. 

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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