When PowerSchool introduced Unlimited Contacts in 2018, many districts saw this as both a blessing and a curse. With the long-time, limited ability to store contact data for students, PowerSchool was finally responding to years of calls for change.
The new contact structure would now allow schools to store an “unlimited” amount of data. No longer would schools be limited to the number of, and/or type of contacts that could be stored, but also would now be able to link multiple phone numbers, email addresses and even home and mailing addresses. Additionally, schools would have the ability to create a contact once and link that contact to any student whether that relationship was as a parent, step parent or emergency contact. PowerSchool had now given schools what they had been asking for all along. But there was a catch….
Migrating contact data from the legacy structure to the new structure was done as part of a version upgrade. There really wasn’t much districts could do to “manage” the migration beforehand, and as a result, once migrated, schools were faced with the daunting task of cleaning up the data. Even five years later districts are still struggling with how to switch to this new contact structure.
While PowerSchool does provide a process for consolidating duplicate contact records, districts are faced with identifying who will be responsible for “cleaning up” the data as well as identifying what other applications will be impacted by the move from the old structure to the new one. The process of consolidating is not only a manual one, time consuming and tedious, but depending on the size of the district and how long they have been using PowerSchool, can be undeniably overwhelming. Admins must review each contact, identify if duplicates exist, and if so, manually select them to go through the consolidation process.
Once the contacts have been consolidated, districts will have to review the records from time to time to keep up on any duplicates as well as update existing or create new forms, letters, and reports to retrieve this new data.
Level Data's Solution
But, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. If you are a Level Data State Validation customer, there are two tabs within the Validation Rule Deck pertaining to contacts. The Contact Reports tab provides a summary of duplicate contact records that may need to be consolidated. Possible duplicates are broken down in multiple ways, from matching first and last names to matches of phone numbers, email addresses and home/mailing addresses to combinations of all of the above. Clicking on the listed results displays all contacts for which duplicates have been identified and allows the user, in one click, to access the Consolidate Contacts screen to begin the consolidation process. Schools no longer need to search through lists of contacts and hand select the ones they wish to consolidate, saving the end users both time and frustration.
Consolidating contact records though is just one piece of the puzzle. Once consolidated, Level Data provides the Contacts tab so schools can easily identify contact records with missing information. Whether missing a first or last name, phone number, email address or home/mailing address, the Contact tab allows schools to quickly identify those contacts in need of attention and in a single click, access their individual Edit Contact screens. In addition, the Contact tab can be used to easily identify contact records that aren't associated with any students, students that don’t have any associated contacts as well as those dreaded No Name contacts. These are just a few of the ways that schools can quickly identify contact records in need of attention. No longer will schools need to search contact by contact to find those with missing or invalid data.
Additional Free Tools
Whether using Level Data’s services or not, there are several additional free tools that many PowerSchool users have created that can make working with contact data a bit easier. The following plugins/reports are just some of the tools that can easily be added to PowerSchool to aid in finding and consolidating duplicate contact records, managing legacy contact records, creating contact related DAT tags or generating Contact based reports. All the items listed below are available for download from PowerSource through Community > PowerSource Exchange.
Note: Files located in PowerSource Exchange are not supported by PowerSchool. PowerSchool is providing links to these files as a courtesy and makes no representations regarding the files or any information related thereto.
Consolidation/Cleaning up Data:
- Consolidate Contacts Express (CCX) by Jim Parsons allows users to quickly find duplicates by matching on Name, Cell Phone, Email, or Street, or any combination of those. Once duplicates are found, users can click a link to open them in a new tab on the consolidation page.
- Copy Student Address to Contact by Stephanie Kilburn allows a user to open the address slide under a contact and click copy from the student's address to the contact.
Disabling Legacy Contacts:
- Disable Legacy Contact Fields by Joseph Knight disables the legacy contact fields on the Demographics, Emergency/Medical, and Parents pages and changes the tool-tip title of the fields to recommend changing those values on the Contacts page.
- Hide Original Contact Type by Joseph Knight hides the Original Contact Type fields on the contact edit page and the edit contact relationship page so that staff can no longer set an original contact type.
Working with Contact DATS:
- Contact DAT Builder by Caleb Forner allows dynamic building of DAT codes to extract data from PowerSchool’s unlimited contacts. It provides a more accessible way for end users to generate DAT tags for use on exports and reports rather than constructing them from scratch.
- Export Contacts “Fields” DAT by Jenny Carroll is a document that provides a list of basic DATS that you can easily copy & paste for your exports and reports.
Object Reports to pull Contact data:
- Student Contacts Emergency List by Stephanie Kilburn is a simple object report that will create a list of students with their first 3 contacts and phone numbers.
- Student Contacts Object Report – Contact Sheet by Jason Springel will create a grid report displaying contact data for up to 6 contacts per student:
- Student Contacts Object Report – Landscape List of 9 by Jason Springel will create a landscape report that will display contact data for up to 9 contacts per student.