Student Data Upload

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Thank you to Josh Murphy, Director of Student Information for Burlington Public Schools, for this update about the process of uploading student data for the PARCC Field Tests. Josh shares some important details and notes about what we have learned in Burlington about the process. 

Part 1: Student Data Upload

One major change that PARCC brings to school districts in Massachusetts is the need to provide student enrollment data in advance of state assessments.  This post addresses some notes, tips and tricks that Burlington has compiled after successfully uploading clean student data.  Before starting to work on the Student Data Upload, school and district data offices need to familiarize themselves with what the fields that are in the SDU and the role those fields will play.

PARCC Student Data Upload Resources

Getting started…

Since the Student Data Upload contains demographic, Special Education, ELL, test grouping and accommodation fields, it will be vital that SIS vendors develop exports that can prepare this document directly from an SIS.  While we can not speak for all vendors, an export was not ready for the PARCC Field Test in our SIS, Aspen.  We are confident that for future PARCC assessments Follett Software will have a proper export developed for Aspen SIS.

Preparing the Student Data Upload for Grade 3 – 8 in both Math and ELA and Grades 9 – 11 in ELA is not too difficult, because these assessments are based off of grade level.  Preparing Grades 9 – 11 Math is a bit more difficult, because these assessments are based off the subject the student is taking at the time of the PARCC Assessment.

In Massachusetts, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education provided districts with an initial PARCC Student Data Upload file, which was pre populated with data based of the district’s October SIMS report.  This was hugely helpful, because many of the PARCC fields utilize different coding structures than the MA DESE SIMS report.  If districts had to develop the Student Data Upload file from scratch, there would be a good amount of manipulation necessary, even if the data existed in the SIS.

Step 1: Remove Exited Students

The MA DESE file is based off of October data, so we removed students in the file who had withdrawn from Burlington Public Schools.  To perform these actions accurately, we cross referenced an export of active students from our SIS.  To automate the process we utilized the VLOOKUP() function, which is available in all of the major spreadsheet applications.

Step 2: Split the Student Data File provided by the MA DESE into three separate files.  

The second step we took was to create three .csv files: Grades3to8, Grades9to11ELA and Grades9to11Math.  Next, we sorted the MA DESE SDU file by Grade Level and Subject Code.  Now that the document was sorted, it made it easier to split it up and copy / paste the pertinent rows into the three .csv files.

Step 3: Add new students to each Student Data File

Nothing to add here other than add your new students.

Step 4: Populate the Class Field

While it isn’t required, we strongly recommend populating the class column for all students.  It will make the creation of sessions in Pearson Access a piece of cake.  Populating the class field will be a daunting task if you to enter them one by one.  We used some spreadsheet magic to fill in the column automatically by connecting another spreadsheet using a VLOOKUP() function.

We tested by homeroom for Grades 3-8 Math and ELA, as well as for Grade 10 ELA.  So, we created class codes that were a combination of the school, homeroom and subject (i.e. BHS-123-ELA).

The high school math file offered a unique set of difficulties.  The MA DESE SDU actually had each high school student triplicated in the file. For example, John Doe was in once with an Algebra 1 code, once with a Geometry code and once with an Algebra 2 code.  So, prior to uploading the additional records needed to be stripped out.  We took an export from out SIS containing each student’s math section.  We whipped up a little more spreadsheet magic using the VLOOKUP() function and some clever sorting to group the records we did not need.  We used the school with the course and section number as the class code for our high school math students (i.e. BHS-221.002)

Step 5: Verify

This is the last step before actually uploading your file.  Now is the time to share parts of your file with other district departments so they can verify class assignments, special education coding and accommodations.  Once your various departments have a chance to make adjustments to the files, you can upload the three separate files to the Pearson Access Site.

What we learned…

Our biggest takeaway from this process is that each district will need someone with a deep understanding of spreadsheet functions and spreadsheet manipulation to avoid the daunting task of manual data entry.  In Burlington, the preparation of the Student Data Upload was handled by the Student Information Office.  This office is responsible for developing and submitting MA DESE SIMS, EPIMS and SCS reports, so we are very comfortable with manipulating data files.  However, the added responsibility is a drastic change, as this office had little to no involvement in MCAS.  In order to devote time to PARCC preparation some sacrifices had to be made and some projects that were actively being worked on had to be put on the back burner.

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