Schools are mandated by law to frequently share student information with parents for a myriad of different reasons, from permission slips to vaccination records. Regardless of the reason, schools should have a cost-efficient and reliable system in place to ensure files are delivered securely and on time. As managing paper records and using traditional mailing methods to send these important documents can be expensive and risky, districts will benefit from implementing an electronic data sharing solution. Here are four of the benefits most schools see after digitizing their data sharing strategies.
1. Comply with FERPA
Schools must adhere to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which requires that schools provide access to documents no longer than 45 days after parents or students have requested them. When administrators rely on traditional mailing and have to gather the appropriate student data from a sea of paperwork, they’re at risk of failing to deliver the files within this time frame. This is especially true if administrators haven’t been efficient with updating the student records with new data. If they aren’t able to provide the information within the set time period, they may also be at risk of losing government and state funding.
Systems such as ParentShare Gateway and Central Records Gateway are able to automate access and/or electronically deliver student reports and documents. Schools don’t have to worry about forms taking too long in the mail. It’s also easy to add new information and reports to existing records. After all, timely delivery is only half the battle when it comes to adhering to FERPA, as student data must be entirely accurate. Online student solutions ensure this is possible before and after the requested information is shared with parents.
“Paper records have traditionally been considered accurate, although not necessarily complete or accessible,” explained the National Center for Education Statistics. “Maintaining data quality as information is shared, analyzed and reported is a characteristic of a well-designed [online] system.”
2. Engage parents
According to research conducted by the Community Preventive Services Task Force, when parents are involved in their children’s academic performance, students do better in school and are even healthier overall. However, mailing key information, such as progress reports, puts this data at risk of being lost or not being shared with parents. When these files are delivered electronically to parents’ email addresses, these risks are eliminated. This ultimately enhances communication between parents, their children and the school.
Research has shown that parent engagement doesn’t only benefit students. It’s also found that teachers and principals are more likely to have higher morale and an increase in job satisfaction, according to 2010 research article “Home-School Relations: Working Successfully with Parents and Families” by Dr. Glen Olsen and Dr. Mary Lou Fuller. The research also pointed to the fact that schools that strive for good parent-teacher relationships also establish better reputations among the community and have higher-quality school programs compared to schools without engaged parents.
“Printing and mailing can end up costing your schools thousands of dollars.”
3. Save on costs
There are a number of ways in which schools save when they implement an automated student data sharing system. Santa Rose City Schools in California, for example, recently reported that it costs them about $2,500 to mail one round of report cards to parents, according to The Press Democrat. Printing and mailing can end up costing your schools thousands of dollars that could be spent on student programs and other important investments.
Online data sharing solutions also free up staff members who would be organizing and mailing paperwork, allowing them to take on other tasks. Electronic file sharing also mitigates the risk of losing funding as a result of failure to comply with FERPA.
4. Secure transfers
When sensitive student data is sent through the mail, it’s always at risk of getting lost or winding up in the wrong hands. ParentShare Gateway features password protection so only authorized school personnel, students and parents can gain access. This is essential as schools work to comply to privacy regulations like FERPA and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Central Records Gateway expands on the secure collection of student documents by making all information pertaining to each child individually and constantly accessible to their guardian through an online password-protected portal.