Going Digital with Student Records
3 Reasons Why the Time is Now
Tasks such as processing student enrollment forms, responding to
requests for student transcripts, and managing applications for
choice programs are all necessary functions for any school
district. And, although digital learning is positioned to become the
new normal in classrooms across the country, when it comes to records
management, many K–12 school districts are still using microfiche,
paper, and PDFs.
For districts still managing and
processing student records in a paper-based format, it might be time
to look toward technology to help efficiently and securely manage
student records. Check out how digital student records can make
administrators' (and families') lives easier.
accessibility to records for families
and graduates. A national pandemic
and approximately 85% of Americans owning a smartphone (according to
Research) helped many districts
look for web-based options for families
to submit their child’s registration
forms, enrollment applications, alumni or third party
requests for transcripts, etc. Moving these
tasks online makes it easier for families and
alumni to complete, especially those working non-traditional shifts
or in jobs further from home. Also,
by housing records digitally, it can make it faster for other
districts or alumni to request records whether
they are moving to a different district or looking for graduation
transcripts. And some online systems
allow students, alumni, and third parties
to pay for records such as transcripts online, which can offset the
cost of a digital system for some.
Tips for Implementing:
when switching to a digital records management system, make sure the
system is mobile-friendly and can
communicate to families and community members how to use it.
Districts can use their most effective communication channels —
whether it’s through their website, sending e-blasts, sending
fliers home with students, demonstrating the system at back-to-school
nights and parent-teacher conferences, or all of the above — to
make families aware of the system and how to use it.
workload for staff. Tracking down
paper records can be time-consuming for district staff members
because documents can be spread out within a building, or across
multiple sites like schools, centralized district offices, and
warehouses, making it difficult for staff to quickly access them.
Many states have regulations about turnaround times for records
requests, which can be hard to meet, even when papers are in one
central location. A digital records management system can allow
personnel to quickly see who does and who does not have all
paperwork in. This can allow them to send reminders to families
who may be missing documents, and can help with school lotteries by
both timestamping when materials were received and, with the right
technology, conducting timely randomized selections for open spots
in sought-after schools.
Tips for Implementing:
Any digital records management system needs to work seamlessly with
other systems you already have in place. Integrating with an
existing student information system (SIS), for instance, is a
necessity. System training for staff on both how to use a system and
how to use data for making informed decisions is important to have.
Secure Data. There is an ongoing
risk that catastrophic events or natural disasters, including fires,
floods, and extreme weather conditions, can lead to the destruction
of physical records and documents. Secondly,
there’s the ever-increasing risk of cyber-attacks, especially
since the shift to using more digital content in classrooms.
2016, there have been 1,331 cyber incidents publicly disclosed by
U.S. schools and districts. Averaged over the last six years, that
equates to a rate of more than one incident per school day (K12
Security Information eXchange 2022 Annual Report).
In 2020, there was a record-breaking number of
publicly reported cybersecurity
incidents — “408 across 377
school districts in 40 states” or “a rate of more than two
incidents per school day throughout 2020”.
to digital records management can alleviate many of
the challenges of maintaining physical records and can better serve a
district’s students and their families. Ultimately, student record
storage, processing, and transfers should be simple and fast. By
taking the issues above into consideration, districts can help make
sure they are well informed as they consider making the shift to
Dr. Bridget Jones has extensive experience in education and family engagement. She earned her doctorate from Northeastern University in Curriculum, Leadership and Teaching. She has worked on several multimillion-dollar United States Department of Education Investing in Innovation grants to help districts expand opportunities and educational programs for students. She has also served as a teacher, STEM coordinator and choice-program manager for school districts. Her current role as Director of Client Success for Scribbles Software includes helping districts budget for and implement new programs and software solutions. She enjoys working with school districts to help them reach their strategic goals.