Public school districts nationwide – particularly smaller districts – continue to deal with penny-pinching budgets as numbers rise for students transitioning to Virtual Academies, Charter Academies, private schools, and homeschooling options.
Grundy County Schools in Tennessee, with less than 1,900 students, is no different.
Their solution? … make sure student data is as clean and manageable as possible so no government support dollars are missed.
Valerie Sitz-Nunley, the district’s database manager, attendance supervisor, and truancy officer, said their district’s rural location means support dollars basically come from state and federal agencies.
“We have very little local funding coming in, so we’ve got to utilize every penny that we can,” she said. “Level Data helps us to do that. I think that we’re scraping up some of those pennies off the bottom of the shelf. And I feel that without Level Data, we would be leaving money on the shelf.”
Grundy County Schools uses PowerSchool to store data and works with Level Data Inc. out of Kalamazoo, Michigan, by utilizing the company’s State Data Validation Suite to make sure all student and staff data in the SIS is as crystal clear as possible before and during state submissions.
We find errors all the time that we may never have found, thanks to Level Data, and it’s creating more money for us, because if the error was left there, we wouldn’t have gotten funding.
“We have definitely saved money, for sure,” Sitz-Nunley said about using Level Data the last five years. “We find errors (in SIS) all the time that we may never have found, thanks to Level Data, and it’s creating more money for us because if the error was left there, we wouldn’t have gotten funding. The service more than pays for itself. It’s worth its money. I have tried many other things and I don’t think I speak about others as highly as I do about Level Data.
“We do know a lot of our kids since we are a smaller district, but we can’t know all of them – especially the transient people that move in and out of your district. It’s really hard to keep up with all of those students. And it’s human nature to make mistakes (with data input), and Level Data will catch those, so that’s a big help to us.”
Boosting Student Success:
The small Tennessee district also uses Level Data’s RealTime Reports, mostly to track chronic absenteeism and graduation credit progress, among additional report options. RealTime Reports streamlines the way school staff access and leverage data in PowerSchool. There's no need to pursue expensive training or certification. Locating, processing, and understanding data about students is lightning quick and as easy to filter as if the user was shopping online.
We do know a lot of our kids since we are a smaller district, but we can’t know all of them – especially the transient people that move in and out of your district. It’s really hard to keep up with all of those students.
With instant access to SIS information, RealTime Reports simplifies the process of making data-driven decisions, identifying opportunities, and measuring outcomes.
“I use it as a measuring stick to see how well we’re doing and that’s more than strictly attendance,” Sitz-Nunley said about the Chronic Absenteeism report. “It’s based on whether it’s an excused or not excused attendance, but once they reach 10 percent, they are chronically absent.
“And that’s what it all boils down to – if we can’t get them in the seat, we can’t teach them.
“With RealTime Reports we are catching this stuff quicker,” she added. “And we are catching some of these students that might turn into dropouts. We can catch them sooner and have a better graduation plan for them.”