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Introducing a new State and District Data Validation Tool for SKYWARD® Users

KALAMAZOO, Michigan – APRIL 6, 2022 – Level Data, Inc. announces a new suite of data validation tools for districts using the Skyward brand Student Information System (SIS). Level Data is a privately-held SaaS Company working with over 1,200 school districts and more than 5 million students using their data validation, data integration and reporting products.

Public School Administrators and student data specialists everywhere understand that submitting accurate data to federal and state agencies is absolutely essential for their district to receive all the funding they are entitled to from many government sources. State submission specialists at school districts are under significant pressure to secure all the funding they possibly can to bolster their local budgets.

Also of critical importance, data-driven decision-making has proven to be key in providing the highest quality of education to students. These decisions that can positively affect curriculum and other strategies are only as good as the quality of the underlying data. Simply put, districts that do not actively focus on maintaining the highest quality data face a substantial performance and economic disadvantage.

Level Data’s proven software immediately identifies erroneous district data and provides a faster means of correcting it. State specific business rules compare the data to each state and federal requirements for compliance reporting. Addresses are also evaluated against U.S. Postal standards for accuracy and Geocoding coordinates. Most data errors happen at the point of entry or through some type of importing process.

When not corrected it starts a frustrating cycle of delivering bad data to the State, which in turn starts the circle of back-and-forth corrections between a school district and its leading funding source. This causes serious delays in funding for a district and a state department of education.

Level Data’s software operates like an invisible overlay on the Skyward platform, so users get all of the functionality delivered to them without having to learn anything new. Error correction simply becomes part of their everyday experience using software they are already familiar with. Errors, along with a plain English explanation of how to fix them, are presented to users. Everyone can now be more successful without any costly professional development. It’s a process by which you don’t need a Master’s Degree in data to utilize and get the data right. This is where it all starts.

Matt Betts, Founder and CEO of Level Data, says: “If we are going to make a meaningful impact on data quality, we need to validate the data at the point of entry. This allows every person in the district who enters data to understand the importance of what they are entering and give them a sense of pride that they are contributing to something much bigger than themselves.

“For districts to thrive, they need more than a way to clean up data, they need a cultural shift toward quality data,” Betts added. “These are very hard-working, dedicated school district employees who want to do the right thing. By enhancing the tools they are already used to working with, the districts can thrive. We introduced this concept a few short years ago. Since then, over 1,000 school districts (including two statewide implementations) have adopted the software. The impact is amazing, transformative, and very real. For the reasons of improving student education and funding we are motivated to be sharing the opportunity with Skyward districts across the country.”

Fred Sharpsteen, the Director of Technology for Michigan-based Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District (ISD) along with Joe Bouman Director of Technology for Big Rapids Public Schools are two of the experts who have been pilot testing Level Data with the district’s Skyward system since before the school year began.

“My first impression is this seems to be a game-changer, and here is why: I’ve been doing technology education for 25 years, and I don’t get overly excited about any (new) technology anymore,” Sharpsteen said.“ But I’m excited about this because data governance has been a huge issue for a good portion of my 25 years – ever since data became more important to schools, the states, and the federal government for pupil accounting. Having accurate data with fidelity (reporting information the same, continuously) is key to making data-driven decisions.”

Richard Webb, Director of Technology for Fremont (Mich.) Public Schools, offered to give Level Data’s software solution a trial run this school year.

“The idea is genius,” he said. “Whatever SIS a district is using, it doesn’t need to have any idea that Level Data exists, from a usability perspective. Level Data’s product is living in the browser, and they are able to interact with Skyward through the browser – and that’s the genius. Level Data can customize to the individual needs of Districts.”

Sharpsteen also said the data accuracy discussion has been going on for decades, long before he even spoke with or began working with Level Data.

“We took on an initiative, working with the Michigan Educational Technology Leaders (METL), trying to get our hands wrapped around data governance, and that’s like a greased pig at the county fair,” Sharpsteen said. “Just when you think you’ve got your hands wrapped around it, it’s off and running again.

“What I have seen, and I believe the overall group has as well, in the business world they are doing better with data warehousing. In colleges they’re not doing as well, and at K-12s we’re doing very little as far as data accuracy and input and data governance.”

Level Data is an affordable addition that enables virtually any district staff to more accurately report State compliance data according to each State’s unique reporting requirements. The system has checks and balances with the district’s data – where color indicators of red, yellow and green are then displayed automatically, and instantaneously detects data errors, potential data errors or valid correct data, respectively, per color.

Simple doesn’t always mean easy, but in this case, it does!

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