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Provincial Reporting (PASI) Success in Alberta: Student Data Quality and Unlimited Contacts

February 13, 2023 at 1:40 PM

Like all educators know, 2 + 2 = 4.

And like Technology, Learning, and Innovation Director, Jesse Sadlowski and Tina Carnegie,
Administrative Assistant and Tech Support know, clean and accurate student data = clean and accurate government reporting.

The 12,000-plus student count of Lethbridge Schools in Alberta, report their student data through PASI (Provincial Achievement Student Information) to the Alberta Education government, which determines school funding. When the government sees the information they don’t like, PASI sends back a warning to the district to clean up the data. Often times there were delays and frustration due to missing just a simple piece of information for a student record, like wrong enrollment dates, or a legal name different from what’s in the system. 

The key word is ‘was.’

“It was always an issue of correcting it first in PowerSchool, then going to PASI and correct it in there as well if the two systems were not talking to each other,” said Carnegie, Lethbridge’s administrative assistant in the IT Dept. “That was pre-Level Data.”

She explained how way too much time was spent searching for errors, which was made worse by the fact they were having so much turnover in school staff. In that case, fixes that could have happened at each of the 24 school buildings in the district, translated to the schools calling IT to fix it instead. So, Lethbridge decided to use Level Data’s plug-in software to easily manage Unlimited Contacts in their PowerSchool system.

“With the Level Data approach, (incorrect data) is all highlighted in red, showing everyone here where there are some possible errors and why it is missing,” said Sadlowski, the director of Technology Learning and Innovation.

So, we’ve been able to quickly identify the areas where the data is incorrect or insufficient or inputted improperly. It quickly helps us identify the issues.

When Sadlowski says ‘us’ he is including the staff at each school responsible for student data input, during registration and later points during the student’s time in the district. The fact that Level Data’s Data Validation Suite software is so incredibly easy for any layman to use, fixes can happen as the data is being entered at the school level, and afterward.

“It’s a lot easier to use Level Data’s plug-in than what we were doing previously,” Carnegie added about improving the use of Unlimited Contacts. “We had lots of positive reports from staff when we rolled this out.”

Carnegie said the best outcome for Lethbridge since beginning to utilize Level Data’s software in early 2022, has been that it’s become so much easier for each school’s staff to make their own corrections with the Level Data plug-in. 

“If they have 10 records that need to be corrected, they can simply go down the list instead of going to each student record one at a time. So, it’s very convenient to go down the list and fix it right there.”

Clean Data Levels Out the Workload

Sadlowski said what many school districts worldwide have expressed – that when it came time for government reporting, it was always a mad dash to meet deadlines with enormous amounts of corrections to be made. Those days have been softened.

“We need to ensure that when there are busy times of the year and big influxes when we are pushing all our information to the government systems, we’ve cleaned up everything that we can when we can do it (prior),” he said. “So, rather than have those peaks and dips when we are trying to push and work with it, those times become smoother. It’s leveled off the workload so we don’t have those peaks and those big stressful times, like when we’d have 10,000 errors and we’d have three days to correct them for the government.” 

Now with a single point of clean data entry in PowerSchool, which then populates their government’s PASI system, Lethbridge Schools has found additional benefits.

“It makes other applications run smoother and with fewer hassles and less problems,” Sadlowski said. “Everything from SchoolMessenger to School Engage and another 6-to-10 software programs that use data from PowerSchool. If that data is not clean, then all of those other services are impacted as well. 

Using Level Data has had a positive impact on using all the other services that we run. We know how critical it is that we have accurate data, and if the one system has accurate data, everything else will run a lot smoother. Simply, all our third-party software that requires data from PowerSchool has been a lot easier to manage.

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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