It's never too late to ditch the paper and microfiche for scanned, secure, and simple records!
At the end of each school year, district faculty take a short moment to celebrate the completion of another academic term. There’s much to be proud of with students moving up in grade levels and some even graduating from primary and secondary school! All of that tremendously hard work put in by staff across every department has been in a successful effort to support the learning experience for students. It is tough to facilitate the unique academic journeys of each student, but when the proper staff members are privy to student information, educators can curate a specific and appropriate learning experience for each student. To ensure this, creating and maintaining a cumulative student folder is vital.
The Problem With Paper
At The School District of Manatee County, "district level resources and district positions, whether it's ESC site services or some of the specialized services at the district office, [were not] able to get to a record in a timely manner to do a [record] review,” according to Chief Technology Officer Scott Hansen. Different records might be housed in various systems and locations across a district or office, which increases the risk of data loss and the time it takes to locate records Plus, the exorbitant amount of paper and file cabinets leads to a lack of space, difficulty staying organized, and a constant need to maintain and reorganize records. This isn’t just a challenge of convenience, it also has an impact on compliance. Additionally, without an audit trail or document tracking, staff have minimal knowledge of document history, who has accessed records, when, and why, which is a risk to the security and preservation of records. Not to mention, the risk of potential data loss due to human error or catastrophic disasters (e.g., storms, fires, floods, and tornadoes) is at an all-time high with physical files.
These challenges have broader implications when it comes to serving students. When records are dispersed across a district, it is difficult for authorized staff who support McKinney-Vento, ELL, 504 plans, and more to access the records they need to quickly and efficiently serve students and families. As students apply for college or employment, or if a government agency submits a records request, wait times can be longer than necessary, potentially having a negative impact on student outcomes. “To comply with state requirements, we were keeping some records in fireproof vaults, which wasn't free, and to get them you had to drive to where they were and physically sign them out. This was an especially bad problem for us. The St. Petersburg area is pretty densely populated during the tourist seasons, so just driving six or seven miles to get to the records vault could take 30 minutes if you hit traffic. The difficulty of all of this made it hard to meet our statutory requirements. Florida districts have time limits for how long we can take to respond to a records request. Depending on the requester and the type of record, it's anything from 3-30 days. That was hard to do when it was all loose paper in a vault or on a school campus somewhere,” said Hansen.
The Path to Paperless
Large and small school districts can relate to these limitations, but the resolution is very simple and achievable. Instead of relying on unsecure, unorganized, bulky paper files, student records can be digitized through a secure software platform. With the proper implementation process, transitioning to online cumulative folders is a no-brainer!
Digital processes can greatly improve outcomes for students. Giving educators, counselors, nurses, McKinney-Vento staff, and administrators instant access to student information facilitates knowledgeable decision-making. Moreover, digital processes will eliminate the risk of lost or inaccurate student records, which can severely impact student learning experiences.
Scanning documents into a centralized, secure software platform provides a single source of truth. With electronic files, staff can automatically capture, split, and collate state reports into individual student records. Electronic records can also be filtered and organized instantaneously, which is more efficient than rifling through boxes and boxes of paperwork. Supervisor of Property Records/Records Management Kristi Miller from The School District of Manatee County confirmed this by saying, "[it was] becoming quite cumbersome for my team to try to locate the right pallet that [the particular file] was on, find the right box on the pallet, pull it down, and then search through the box. So being able to digitize everything has made a big difference for my team in completing records requests within the state statute.” Staff can also use existing systems to allow student records to automatically move with the student as they matriculate through primary and secondary school.
The Benefits Continue
A great amount of efficiency and cost savings are associated with using professional software platforms. Districts can enjoy the reduced costs for document storage and transportation and the reduced need for on-site and off-site storage/office space once documents are properly scanned. Districts also set themselves up for future growth when utilizing scalable technology solutions. Not to mention, ridding schools of unnecessary paper can greatly decrease carbon emissions.
Security is arguably one of the most important aspects of electronic student files. With properly-protected digital records, districts can provide privacy for students and their families by segmenting permissions to different types of records. In addition, best-in-class software solutions with FERPA and SOC2 compliance provide the highest level of security around student records. District staff can also eliminate the fear of catastrophic events with multi-region, multi-datacenter, multi-grid disaster recovery. Secure electronic processes make purging, storing, and moving data a breeze!
Record-Breaking, Electronic, Cumulative Records
Determining to forgo paper and scanning student files might be easy, but finding the proper solution can pressure decision-makers. Scribbles Software prides itself on the level of security, organization, and support that can be enjoyed with our electronic cumulative folders solution powered by the Amazon Blockchain. Our sophisticated software (and the team that comes with it!) can provide every single one of the amazing features and outcomes discussed with going digital plus more. And our implementation process is seamless! According to Kristi Miller, “We had such a great launch and success with [our first Scribbles] product that we were receptive to anything else [they were] offering. We did look at a few vendors, some of whom were more specifically focused on K-12 than others, and just basically vetted everybody to see who had the product that was going to see to our needs the most. Because of the history that we had already had with Scribbles and the success that we'd had, I think that tipped the scales in Scribbles' favor.”
Are you ready to learn how your district can transition to electronic cumulative folders? Fill out the form below to learn more about our electronic, cumulative records solution and how it can support your district’s unique needs!