In recent years, K-12 students’ needs have expanded and intensified, and school districts across the United States are looking for ways to better support them. Legislators have responded to these needs with federal and statewide funding such as the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which supports states in providing mental health resources to students in school settings.
“The school has become the hub, the access point, for students and family members to connect to the resources they need to thrive,” says Tre Cabrera, a professional urban and regional planner with a 16-year career in economic development and community planning. “The needs of families are growing, and there is now unprecedented funding to support an increase in social services in schools.”
But, with this additional funding to support social services in schools has come a complicated side effect: School districts now have an often-overwhelming amount of data on students as a result of the increase in services and resources on campuses.
While it is great to have an abundance of data, many school leaders lack the processes and systems required to synthesize that data and draw actionable and timely insights. Some school districts still work out of spreadsheets or physical files, and many others use a variety of point solutions to capture and track student data, including multi-tiered systems of support, visitor management software, and survey tools. Typically, these disjointed tools serve one specific purpose, preventing staff from easily sharing data across departments and resulting in siloed data.
Not only is a disconnected stack of applications difficult for IT to support, but it also limits program managers’ ability to get holistic data on every student. And as school districts grow and look to expand social services for students, antiquated software solutions cause issues like coding discrepancies between team members, ineffective version tracking, and data loss during personnel changes.
Operating with unified and consistent data is important for school districts to avoid adding to workers’ already-overloaded plates and to create visibility across campuses and programs, thereby enhancing services for students.
Siloed data and archaic data management systems also means a school district’s reporting capabilities are limited. Without case management software, school workers are left manually collecting data in order to create reports, which takes hours out of their day. However, built-in reporting capabilities with an effective case management solution means that workers can access important reports with a few clicks of a mouse.
After adopting Apricot, Social Solutions’ case management solution, Akron Public Schools (APS) found it was able to better collect data on students and better affect outcomes within the student population.
Many of the roughly 20,000 students at APS face non-academic challenges, including homelessness and poverty. APS supports students and families across the district with resources like tutoring, counseling, and college and career academies. Before implementing Apricot, student data at APS was siloed, presenting problems in trying to help its students.
“When staff members recorded information on what they were doing with students, that data went into a document or a spreadsheet,” said Carrie Evans, technology training specialist for APS. “This siloed data made it hard to see what the whole student looked like, including who was working with which student, and how many interventions each student was receiving.”
The district invested in a case management system to address its data challenges. APS needed a system that would allow staff to import and export information from other tools. The district also wanted a solution that would allow staff to pull real-time data to quickly see how effective a program was or how specific students were doing.
“Our case management system gives staff the ability to see the whole student without having to look for data within a dozen different systems,” Carrie says. “The tool also provides a lot of flexibility, allowing our school district lots of room to build and expand the programs we need.”
With an influx of funding and increased demand for social services across your campuses, no time can be wasted in updating your data solution. In order to deliver the best services to your students and their families, it’s critical that you have a solution that is specifically tailored for your school district to gain a comprehensive view of your students, your programs, and your campuses. Learn more about how Social Solutions’ Apricot software can help your school district.
Read more about how better data management can improve student health and safety.
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