Student record management is outdated. Here’s how to evolve it.

How to get regional student data sharing through open and proprietary standards

When healthcare records started to go electronic, it led to an improved patient experience and quality of care, revolutionizing medicine. By using a similar approach for student record management, the education industry should be expected to be able to vastly improve students’ and educators’ experiences as well.

Imagine having students’ observations, attendance records, summative and formative assessments and other evidence of learning available digitally. Electronic student records hold the promise of evolving student data tracking, improving student data management in schools and simplifying the transition process between schools.

Many schools and districts are already using a student information system (SIS) or student management system (SMS) to store student data. To bring all of that information into a single electronic student record, open and proprietary standards are necessary.

So, how does this benefit district, state, regional and national education leaders?

To answer this question, let’s explore the value of platform interoperability, how it applies to student data tracking and how it can improve student record management in schools and districts.

What’s the value of edtech platform interoperability?
Consider the healthcare record analogy. Just as clinics may use different electronic medical record systems, schools use different SIS and SMS providers. In healthcare, it’s essential that health records are portable among many different systems – the same applies to education.

When a student moves from school to school or district to district, their student record doesn’t follow if they move from one SIS or SMS to another. This is especially problematic for students who move frequently, as school stability is a contributor to the achievement gap. If electronic student records could be easily transferred from one SIS to another, educators would gain a valuable resource for understanding learners’ unique experiences and needs.

If abstracted out from proprietary SIS and SMSes, electronic student records could also enable school and district leaders to make data-driven decisions, build rich student portfolios and remain in control of selecting their own SIS and SMS systems if they choose to make changes.

What’s the current state of edtech platform interoperability?
In the U.S., the idea of interoperability in education has gained traction, but reality still lags behind other industries. As explained by EdSurge, “data is fragmented across different systems that don’t ‘speak’ to one another […] records are not easily transferable between tools used within the same school or district.”

So, while institutions in the U.S. are leveraging edtech platforms to collect, manage and store student data, the challenge of disparate platforms is daunting. Even within a single state, it’s not uncommon to find many different brands of SISes in use.

As EdSurge put it, “administrators often want to see student data from various tools compiled into one dashboard […] teachers want to avoid manually entering student data into several systems.”

Open standards such as OneRoster, LTI, SIF and others which exchange certain pieces of data between systems are on the right track for solving this problem. But there are many different standards, some competing, and no over-arching standards-based approach aimed at building a complete history of a learner across their academic lifetime.

Interoperability in action: New Zealand
After realizing the value and need for countrywide student data sharing, New Zealand’s Ministry of Education launched the Te Rito student information sharing initiative.

Similar to the U.S., every school in New Zealand has the autonomy to select its own SMS. Dissimilar to the U.S., New Zealand has no school districts – each site operates independently. This means that each of the country’s 2,500 schools is running its own SMS, so there hasn’t been a way to view aggregated data.

After a two-year procurement process, New Zealand selected Edsby to create a system where electronic student records can be shared securely and efficiently from school to school, which educators can use to improve outcomes and make data-driven decisions.

How to deploy electronic student records
New Zealand’s approach can be applied to other regions, including the U.S. To pull student data from different edtech platforms and create a single electronic student record, open and proprietary standards need to play a role. In New Zealand, Edsby performs nightly synchronizations with the country’s 2,500 SMSes, using its own synchronization technology, to build detailed meta-records of student achievement, behavior, attendance, discipline, educator observations, assessments and more.

Real-world solutions will always need to work directly with legacy systems, sometimes through an application programming interface (API) or direct database access.

For example, Edsby uses data synchronization integrations, authentication integrations and real-time data integrations to enable two-way connections between data stores and systems found in schools and districts.

New Zealand’s inspiring country wide project is an inspiring model for others seeking their own electronic student record sharing on a state-, province-wide or national basis. More about Edsby’s New Zealand project here.

Modernizing student record management
Electronic student records hold the promise of deeper learning and simplified transitions between schools. By working together, education vendors, district leaders, and local and regional education officials can modernize student record management to support educators in driving achievement for every student.

Interested in streamlining your region’s student data management process? Contact a member of our team today.