Best practices for tech directors to transition to FinalForms.
New software presents challenges, we understand that. That is precisely why we provide assistance in leaping the hurdle from your existing data processes to streamlined FinalForms data processes. We also prepare documentation to help you communicate with your staff and parents.
One goal of your transition to a K-12 FinalForms launch is ALL parents and ALL students with accounts including completed forms sets. We find that there are two distinct approaches to this goal:
- Allow parents to create accounts and then create their students.
- Seed the installation with a spreadsheet import of all students and their parents.
Let's talk about the pros and cons of both approaches in specific scenarios.
Approach 1: Parent Generated
Approach 1 requires the district to communicate the need for ALL parents to create an account on FinalForms. Communication processes already surround your back-to-school paperwork, so tailoring your message is all that needs to be done! We provide districts with instructional handouts to provide to parents aiding in this process.
Note: The biggest challenge districts face is getting every parent to FinalForms. GOOD NEWS: Once on FinalForms, less than 2% of parents report problems following the step-by-step account and student creation process.
- It's EASY! If you direct the parent to the site, FinalForms takes care of the rest!
- Parents input and confirm their preferred email address guaranteeing communication.
- No parent or student information is pre-populated.
- Identifying stragglers is difficult because their account simply won't exist in FinalForms.
- Assigning StudentIDs (to allow for syncing with your SIS) is a manual, though one time, assignment.
Approach 2: Spreadsheet Generated
Approach 2 requires building an accurate spreadsheet. The district tech team must build the spreadsheet using existing data including "primary key" information for students (StudentID) and parents (email address). When the tech team imports the spreadsheet "stub accounts" are created for students and parents, automatically sending account confirmation emails to parents prompting account confirmation and student registration.
Note: The biggest challenge districts face is the accuracy of parent email addresses. If the email is incorrect, parents will never receive a confirmation email. GOOD NEWS: Administrators simply swap the incorrect email with the correct email and the automatic account confirmation process is triggered.
- Account stubs for ALL students.
- Students already associated with their StudentIDs.
- Sort and filter all students to view their registration status. Easy to pick out stragglers.
- Data can be pre-populated. The import can include as much information as you want to include, pre-populating forms for the parents' convenience.
- Building a perfectly accurate spreadsheet.
- Specifically, you must have accurate email accounts for your parents.
Going from Athletic-Only to K-12
Finally, if your district already uses FinalForms for athletics and is expanding to K-12 use, you must ensure that duplicate accounts are not created for students and parents.
FinalForms uses email addresses as the primary key for parents. You must make sure that the email address associated with a parent in the SIS (and thus the spreadsheet) matches the email address associated with a parent in FinalForms to prevent duplicate accounts for parents.
FinalForms uses cascading matching keys for students. It will first try to find the student record based on StudentID -> then Email -> and finally a combination of First Name, Last Name, & Date of Birth. If it does not find a student based on any of those criteria, it will create the student.
Choosing Your Approach
A lot of this boils down to preference, the accuracy of your current data, the size of your district and whether you were already using FinalForms for athletics.
- If your data is inaccurate, we recommend the Parent Approach.
- If your district is large, we recommend the Spreadsheet Approach. Why? Identifying students and parents with missing accounts can be a massive task in August.
- If your district uses FinalForms for athletics, we recommend the Parent Approach.
A Combined Approach
Finally, a combination of the Parent Approach and the Spreadsheet Approach may be practical. In this case, you guide parents toward creating accounts (Parent Approach). Then, on a chosen date in August, determine which students do not yet have accounts. Then, build a small spreadsheet for those students, import it, and turn off future student registrations (Spreadsheet Approach).
The approaches, recommendations and guidance in this article are relative to the first time seeding of a whole K-12 district's worth of data.
During the course of the school year you may receive transfers, which except in truly massive districts, are frequently best dealt with individually (Parent Approach).
In future years, you will only need to worry about transfers and that bright eyed new class of Kindergartners. For these, we recommend seeding them with a spreadsheet (Spreadsheet Approach), as you can collect seed information from the parent during the new student registration meetings.
Posted on Tue, March 1, 2016
by Macklin Chaffee