Data Quality and Education Funding
Schools and school districts get most or all of their funding from their parent organizations. Depending on their location, this may be a school district, a state or some other organization. Regardless of where the funding originates, the source of that funding requires accountability in the form of some kind of reporting. (Most commonly this is in the form of digital reporting.)
Recently, we took a survey of several US school districts to find out how much they spent gathering and preparing this information to send to their respective states as required to receive state funding. The answers were surprisingly alike for places that hadn’t used our software or methodologies.
The Cost of Having Errors in Submitted Data
The Opportunity for Improvement
, and it is typically a very large number for something unseen which makes it a ripe target for improvement.
When a submission to the state is needed, the data from these systems is collected and matched, and finally, CSV (Comma-Separated Values) files are created. These files are then submitted as a “test run” to the state after which the state notifies the district about errors. The district then corrects the errors in the CSV files. Unfortunately, these files are difficult to edit and the process is very time-consuming, so this is where a massive amount of work occurs.
Furthermore, the process is so time-consuming that nobody ever corrects the errors back in the source systems, so the next time the data is needed for a collection, those errors will still be there.
By using our Veracity application, we bring the state’s data standards and their application to current data to the desktop of those entering the data. As the data is being entered, Veracity checks against the data quality standards. Any errors (and warnings) will be reported back to the person who entered the data through Veracity’s user interface, allowing them to fix the error while the source documents are still readily available, not several months later when the data is being submitted to the state.
This allows errors to be fixed once and fixed in the source system – not in the CSV file. Because the source documents are still available, this correction takes less than 3 minutes. This is significantly less than the 10 minutes or more on average that is needed once the source documentation has been filed away.
Typically this 10 to 3 minute error correction reduction can be seen in cost savings even during the first reporting cycle. However, the large cost savings will become more obvious in the second reporting cycle and beyond when most of the errors that used to be corrected every cycle no longer show up in the gathered data.