It’s getting warmer. Spring break is either over or just about to start. The end of the year is in sight. But while students get to take the summer off, as teachers and administrators, you’ve got quite a bit of work to do. From tidying up this year to planning for next year, the spring and summer are busy seasons of preparation. This post is all about getting ahead of schedule so that you can actually enjoy some of your summer and control your priority list in the fall.
There’s a lot you can do before this year ends, to prepare for next year. To help navigate the waters we developed a simple checklist to get you thinking about your different End of Year (EOY) data tasks and responsibilities. Click the button below to review our EOY Data Checklist. As you go through the checklist, use this blog post for additional context and details. If this process helps you identify any gaps in your planning or you want to talk about a strategy that keeps you a step ahead, get in touch with our experienced team of data professionals to finish this year strong, and get the 2019/2020 school year off to a great start.
Section 1: Scheduling
Have you finalized your schedule for next year? If you have, check this box. You are already ahead of the game. If not, it’s important to start thinking about it now. All too often we find schools scrambling at the end of summer to load schedules, sort out special rotations, and be proficient enough to handle the Student Information System (SIS). By the time August rolls around, you should have the schedule finalized and ready to roll. If not, do you have a plan in place to finish it before students and teachers walk back through the doors? What do you need to help you complete this all-important task?
Next, think about course and code updates. Educational requirements change every year. Do all your courses reflect the latest curriculum standards? If not, which ones need revision? Is there a technology component to any of these required changes? Consult with your IT staff or partners to make sure your course documentation reflects the course loads that will be offered to your stakeholders.
Lastly, consider your scheduling software. Are you using PowerSchool PowerScheduler or something different? We talked quite a bit about PowerScheduler in a past post but it’s worth repeating. PowerScheduler offers robust tools for creating dynamic and flexible schedules and helps you transition between years much more smoothly than other schedule tools. The Macro Connect team is a PowerSchool Certified Service Partner and we travel all over the state of Michigan and the Midwest teaching counselors and administrators how to make the most of PowerScheduler. If you’re already using PowerScheduler, check this box and move on! If you’re not and you’d like to learn more about how PowerScheduler can make scheduling an easier, faster, and more enjoyable process, reach out to schedule a free consultation.
Section 2: Start of Year Training
With so many people to train on so many topics, it’s important to plan out your back-to-school PD ahead of time. If you’ve already started training, or have a firm training plan in place, check the first box yes. If not, start thinking about a training schedule that includes ample time dedicated to the SIS before the year ends and set expectations for summer training requirements.
Current staff will need to stay sharp on what’s already in place, as well as get trained on any new module implementations. New staff may need to learn everything from square one. Do you have a rigorous on-boarding process in place to make sure new teachers and administrators can work effectively as soon as the first bell rings?
Section 3: Pupil Accounting
Student counts form the basis for most of your funding, which makes getting accurate numbers critically important. Official count data is due during the year, namely in the fall and winter, but there are a few other data submission requirements to keep in your calendar including MSDS and TSDL. This part of the checklist is meant to help you stay on top of all these submissions to keep you compliant with all data reporting regulations.
The first item on our list is about MSDS, the Michigan Student Data System. There are a lot of reporting requirements on both the state and federal level and this system streamlines the process for you so that you only need to submit it once. Have you gathered end of year data for MSDS? If so, check yes. If not, be sure to create a clear plan to do so. It’s vital to school and district success.
Similarly, the TSDL, Teacher Student Data Link, links data between students and the teachers who provide instruction. This system makes sure you meet the requirements of the America Competes Act, the State School Aid Act, and helps the Michigan Department of Education make the necessary calculations for the Parent Dashboard for School Transparency. Have you gathered your data for TSDL? If you have, check yes. If not, we can help you create a plan to make an accurate and timely submission.
Other important pupil accounting steps include new student enrollments. Do you have a process in place to get accurate timely counts? Are you aware of any new regulations or process changes? Do you have resources in place to ensure compliance? If so, check yes. Otherwise, reach out to our student Data experts and move into the summer months with a great plan in place to handle those requirements. Also consider End of Year rollover. Transitioning from year to year is a big task but there are tools out there that make it mostly painless. If you’re ready to rollover, check yes. If not, now is the time to commit to the process.
And lastly, most schools have a few lingering issues that always fall to the bottom of the to-do list. Have you resolved all data issues from the 2018/2019 academic year? If you have, great job. If you’re like everyone else, there are only a few weeks left to get it done. Don’t leave them to the summer months when you’d rather not deal with them.
Section 4: Data Leadership & Planning
There are so many day-to-day tasks that it can be hard to step back and think about technology from a wider perspective. It’s important to do so regularly. If you don’t have a C-level Technology staff member to ask these kinds of questions, we hope that the fourth section of this checklist inspires some new thinking about the way your school uses technology.
In terms of new technology, has your IT staff or provider made any recommendations for new investments to improve the efficiency, security, and accuracy of your data processes? Did they back it up with current data and documentation? If so, check yes. If not, reach out to them and ask. Summer is a great time to install new technology and train your staff, but it’s also a great time to work on a vision and strategy that will guide your decisions for years to come. If you haven’t already we suggest organizing some planning meetings to discuss how you can continue to grow and improve each year.
Other recommended technology leadership tasks include identifying specific administrative or instructional problems that your SIS might be able to solve or making changes to your SIS to lighten the load of data collection by automating certain data entry. If you start thinking about these questions now, you’ll have time over the summer to tackle big projects that improve how your organization uses data long into the future.
Making Sense of Your Results
No matter your score, we’re glad you took the time to complete this checklist; to start thinking ahead and preparing for a new year that’s even better than the last. If you weren’t able to check four or more boxes, it sounds like you’ve got a lot on your plate. It may be a good idea to bring in an expert partner who can help you handle these responsibilities or at least help you create a plan to do it yourself. If you were able to check five to twelve boxes, that’s wonderful. You’re making great progress, but there’s still a lot to get done. Give us a call to see how Macro Connect can take your data strategy to the next level. If you were able to check thirteen or more boxes, way to go! You’re basically ready for the fall already. Kick back and enjoy your summer!
Get Started Now
As you begin planning for the next academic year, it’s important to assess your current status and the resources you have available to accomplish everything required. If you haven’t already, download and review our End of Year Data Checklist and use this blog post as a guide to fill it out. Then, once you’ve gotten your results, give us a call.
We love helping schools stay a step ahead when it comes to scheduling, data compliance, and technology leadership. Together, we can make next year a great year for your school or district.