Improving Data Accuracy and Management in Education
At a Glance
Next Generation Men and Women is a non-profit organization that was struggling to maintain dozens of spreadsheets and program management systems. To remedy this, LookThink CognoSIS configured the Salesforce Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP) to consolidate their documentation and integrations for better user experience while they close the opportunity gap for the youth of Atlanta.
Data Excellence Award from the DC Public Charter School Board
attendances recorded to date
custom reports generated
- Create a streamlined digital solution that would replace a manual, spreadsheet-based data process in order to reduce administrative time, redundancy, and data errors while increasing student insights
- Track every student from both an individual- and family-based level, along with their corresponding class schedules, grades, attendance, assessment results, and program-specific data
- Develop easy-to-use custom reporting capability and automated data transfer on a daily basis
What We Did
Transformed disparate, laborious, Excel-based systems and processes into an integrated, robust application leveraging the Salesforce platform
Who We Helped
Teachers, school administrators, and students
What We Used
Lightning, Apex, Workflows, Triggers
Briya is a public charter school in Washington, DC that educates adults and young children in over 650 families across 4 campuses. Families enroll in Briya’s two-generation program together: parents study ESL or Workforce Development while their children receive a high-quality early education.
Briya, a public charter school with four locations in Washington, DC, faced a mounting challenge: they were rapidly outgrowing their existing, Excel-based school management system, which was a poor match for their innovative family-focused education model. Due to the limitations of spreadsheets, tracking the necessary data for their growing student body and utilizing their data as needed was becoming increasingly problematic and requiring considerable time and resources.
Briya needed a customized system that would reduce administrative time, redundancy, and data errors. This new system would need to track all of their students at both an individual and family-based level, along with their corresponding classes, attendance, grades, assessment results, and program-specific data. It also would need to support custom reports for both internal use and funding agencies, as well as automatically compile and send data files to a government reporting agency on a daily basis.
Creating the Full Picture of the Whole Student
LookThink CognoSIS proposed, designed, and implemented a Salesforce-based system that delivered a complete, custom School Information System (SIS), allowing Briya staff to register, enroll, manage, grade, and track the academic progress of their diverse student base, along with other critical functionality. We designed a comprehensive data model that addressed all of their immediate requirements while allowing for future expansion as needed.
Workflows, triggers, and Apex classes were used to enhance the Salesforce objects’ functionality in many ways, among which are helping to limit repetitive data entry and to ensure data quality.
stored in cumbersome, Excel-based system
a unified, cloud-enabled Salesforce Platform solution
LookThink CognoSIS designed and created a robust, custom Lightning app for daily attendance-taking that includes monthly views to display attendance trends, alerts, and statistics. The attendance app allows Briya’s teachers to quickly and accurately record attendance for their students and see critical metrics on their students at a glance. Additionally, classrooms are set up so that adult students use an iPad with a restricted student-view to mark themselves “present” as they arrive.
The attendance app allows Briya’s teachers to quickly and accurately record attendance for their students and see critical metrics on their students at a glance.
To ensure data accuracy, we implemented an approval process for reviewing attendance. Attendance administrators are able to review and edit all student attendance and sign-off on data, at which point that attendance data is marked available for government reporting requirements. This ensures that only approved data is being used for Briya’s official reporting.
Additionally, LookThink CognoSIS created a robust School Calendar that allows administrators to create calendar entries such as holidays, school cancellations, and events, as well as school day notifications such as field trips or a substitute teacher filling in for a class. These calendar events can be logged either school-wide, program-wide, or for individual classes. The full-year view allows users to see closures and important events at a glance, as well as statistics such as school year start and end dates or total class days for the year. To enhance data accuracy, the School Calendar integrates with the Attendance app and prevents attendances from being logged on holidays or other school closures.
For gradebook functionality, LookThink CognoSIS created a Grade Entry page that allows for easy access to assignments and entry of the students’ grades, using filters to display only applicable assignments based on criteria the teacher can set. To maintain appropriate access levels, teachers are only able to enter grades for their classes, but administrators can access all classes and grades. Our Apex classes and triggers do all of the hard work behind the scenes for the staff, with a custom grading algorithm to automatically calculate students’ cumulative grades based on assignments, quizzes, exams, and attendance hours each time a grade-related item is created/updated/deleted.
Under their old system, Briya would have to spend hours each day compiling student data from various spreadsheets into a specific format and manually upload the files to a government reporting agency. To fully automate this time-intensive process, we wrote custom Apex code that runs as a daily job to automatically compile, map, and format real-time data into the required five different files that the government agency is able to access from their system via an ODBC connection. What used to be a laborious daily process is now completely automated from start-to-finish, saving Briya staff countless hours each day and ensuring more accurate reporting.
With Salesforce’s powerful reporting tools, Briya has been able to create a wide range of reports by themselves that give them tremendous insights into their data. Having a 360 degree view of their students and performance metrics has allowed Briya to improve their school processes and, consequently, the lives of their students. For more complex reporting needs that exceed Salesforce’s out-of-the-box functionality, we have created custom Lightning reports that perform advanced calculations and provide results tailored to their reporting needs.
Training and Change Management
To ensure effective acceptance and usage of the new management system, LookThink CognoSIS provided iterative training to the Briya staff, helping all levels of users understand how to access and execute the new functionality, including creating data records, setting up custom page views, assigning profiles to users, and running the reports that they would need. Designing a system from the start that is intuitive and easy to use was critical in helping Briya’s staff transition to a new system and increase their quantity and quality of data.
A More Accurate Database
The transformation of Briya’s school management system from a disparate and laborious spreadsheet-based system to an integrated, robust application not only provides significant time savings for the Briya staff, but also reduces errors and ensures timely delivery of their required reporting.
Now Briya is able to accurately manage their student information, use their data more effectively, and put their time-and-energy savings to much better use.
Additional Case Studies
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