Easing stress during the annual school enrollment period
The annual student enrollment period often proves to be a stressful time for everyone involved. For students and parents, enrollment can feel like an endless parade of forms, authorizations, verifications, and registrations. What many don’t realize is that this complex but vital process can be just as stressful for school administrators and those responsible for educational IT systems.
Typically, enrollment demands many hours of work by staff members and IT, along with the associated costs of those hours. Once families have provided schools with their student’s information, school administrators have to take steps to ensure that the data is securely stored. With so many steps in the process, student registration and re-enrollment can feel like a tedious time for many. We sat down with our very own CEO and Co-Founder, Jinal Jhaveri, to learn about how using an enrollment system that integrates with your SIS can help school systems save time, money, and alleviate stress.
SchoolMint: The integration of registration data into an SIS suggests having an ‘enrollment system’ in the first place. How important is that?
Jinal Jhaveri: For starters, automating a school system’s registration and re-enrollment process can save significant amounts of time and money. With an online and mobile registration platform, school systems can reallocate funds that were previously used on paper, printing, and mailing towards vital investments that have a more direct impact on student outcomes.
In addition to saving money and staff time, automation dramatically improves the accuracy of enrollment data. Administrative staff will no longer struggle to interpret registration documents which contain critical student information. Additionally, a good registration system automatically checks for returning and transferring students previously registered in the school district. When it comes time for re-enrollment, the system is already pre-populated with the student data like grade, school, emergency contact information, etc.
Fortunately, online registration systems have become very easy to use. Parents can quickly complete and submit school forms and upload documents whenever convenient, even on their mobile phones. And, now that school systems have all of their enrollment data in a digital format, staff can more easily conduct analyses and gain insights into their enrollment data, which enables better planning and decision making.
SM: What are the primary reasons why school systems care about the accuracy of student enrollment data?
JJ: The overall budget for each school is primarily defined by the number of students it successfully enrolls. On average, a budget in the neighborhood of $12,000 is allocated per student for public schools in the U.S. That means that system failures and reduction in enrollment can lead to the permanent loss of hundreds jobs, as well as millions of dollars in school funding.
The other reason that the integrity of enrollment data is so important is because this student data is private and requires extra security protection. Schools have a moral and legal responsibility to prove that all students are treated equally, regardless of information about the students, their parents or their guardians in regard to actual or perceived race, color, national origin, immigration or citizenship status, and other locally determined impermissible factors. Storing this data online means that it won’t get lost and administrators can access this information quickly and easily.
SM: Why is important to consider the integration of student registration data with an SIS when contemplating an enrollment system?
JJ: Once again, it’s about time, money, and data accuracy. By automatically syncing up enrollment data with a SIS, the margin of error in creating a comprehensive student record decreases.
Since the SIS is generally considered the final source of truth for teachers and administrators, direct integration between an enrollment system and a SIS not only enhances data accuracy, but streamlines school operations and reduces costs. Data errors that make it into the SIS can have big repercussions. Many stakeholders rely on the accuracy of SIS data and direct integration is many times more accurate than repeat data entry.
SM: What types of data are collected during the registration and re-enrollment process?
JJ: There are many essential types of identifying information that must be collected during student registration periods. Required information may vary, but can include guardian information, demographics, emergency contact information, media release forms, technology policies, etc. Schools also need to keep track of essential health data such as the results of student physical exams and the compliance with immunization schedules. This also extends to the results of optical and dental checkups.
Student ethnicity data must be collected as required by state and federal laws such as state assessments, special education evaluations and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports. Beyond the registration period, there are many more examples of forms that must be completed and updated year-round. Athletic programs need authorizations and release forms. Students with learning and attention issues need their 504 Plan or IEP documents. Missing details or outdated information can pose a serious security risk and create legal exposure for the district.
With so many forms for parents and school administrators to exchange and collect, the likelihood of these documents getting lost increases. Using an online student enrollment system like SchoolMint can help simplify this process. Parents will no longer need to search around for missing documents. Instead, they’ll be able to access all school forms online on their mobile device and can complete them at their convenience. Parents can also upload important documents like proof of residence or immunization records in seconds through their mobile phone or computer. If parents need to update records at any time, they can also do so through the online enrollment system. This helps ensure that data is up to date!
SM: Are there ongoing benefits to the integration between an SIS and the school enrollment system?
JJ: A seamless SIS integration and registration system like SchoolMint prevents data entry errors and eliminates many hours of work and countless headaches. School administrators can count on securing clean data without duplicates. Critical fields like addresses transfer with flawless accuracy and data is available throughout the system in real time.
This means that IT can spend more time on improving the system rather than fixing errors. Administration can focus on providing higher quality education instead of dealing with problems arising from incomplete enrollments. Perhaps the most important advantage is that integration with your SIS opens up access to high level enrollment and demographics dashboards to authorized users. The reduction in stress alone will justify this new implementation.
SM: What questions should a school system ask when trying to optimize (or set up) a seamless integration between their enrollment system and their SIS?
JJ: There are three primary considerations that a school system should contemplate when either first setting up an integration or further optimizing the integration between their enrollment system and their SIS. First, it is important to note the type of integration, if any, that currently exists between their enrollment system and their SIS — API level, import and export process, FTP transfers, etc. This will help the school understand how much flexibility and control they have when moving data from the enrollment system into the SIS.
Secondly, to avoid duplicate student records, a school system should ensure that the integration can identify both exact and potential student record matches so that administrators can decide whether they need to create a new student record in the SIS or re-purpose an existing one. Third, it’s important for schools to have visibility into changes that have been made to the records and when they were made. This is critical for auditing purposes.
SM: With which SIS providers does SchoolMint integrate?
JJ: SchoolMint seamlessly integrates with leading SIS providers like PowerSchool, eSchoolPlus (SunGard), Chalkable, Skyward, Aeries, Aspen (Follett), Illuminate and others to ensure that data transfer is as simple as possible. We provide seamless integrations and easy data exports in order to enhance the quality and integrity of data and improve the efficiency of operations.
* A version of this interview with Jinal Jhaveri first appeared on Education Technology Insights.