All the efforts to create, store, update and manage school records will be wasted if the data and information are not fully and properly used to:
- Strengthen monitoring and management in schools.
- Report to higher levels of the education administration.
- Inform and mobilize support from the stakeholders.
School record data and information can be used either directly, or transformed into other forms so as to facilitate analysis, interpretation, dissemination and use.
7.1 individual school records and summary lists
School records can exist in four forms:
- Records of individual persons (e.g. students, teachers or school staff) or of physical items (e.g. classrooms, furniture, equipment, teaching/learning materials, ledger of financial transactions).
- Summary lists (e.g. of students, teachers, equipment).
- Tally sheets to count the number of persons, school facilities or occurrences.
- Summary tables.
These forms complement each other, as they enable us to record and present data in ways that are more appropriate for use by different persons and for different purposes. As mentioned in Section 6, using school records in different forms can also help to cross-check data quality.
Records of individual persons– like the student record card can be used to store detailed information about each person such as sex, age, grade, previous education, language spoken at home, family conditions, disabilities, performance scores in subjects and behavior. The same applies to teacher records. individual records can be created and added whenever a new student or teacher joins the school. They can also be archived or disposed of when a student or teacher has left the school.
Summary lists– like the class attendance sheet, textbook record sheet or the student performance summary. if we want for example to compare the characteristics of all the students in a class, it can be quite laborious to flip through a deck of individual student record cards back and forth in trying to compare the data. Often, a summary list can be created by copying one-by-one the names of the students and specific characteristics such as sex, age, attendance and subject scores into a summary list (see example 12). in this way, we can make comparisons at a glance across the list regarding, for example, who has been most frequently absent from school or who obtained the highest score in mathematics. Similar summary lists may be made of teachers, school facilities, equipment, etc.
Tally sheets – are used to count the number of occurrences of individuals, items or events that match certain criteria or characteristics. example 13 shows the results of tallying the numbers of male and female students who match the criteria of being either under-aged, of the correct age, or over-aged for attending Grade 1.
We create a tally sheet by going through the individual student record cards or the summary list of students like in example 12, count and record each occurrence of students who match these criteria. if, for example, the official age for being in Grade 1 is six years old, we can go through the individual student records (or summary list) and look at the information about ‘Sex’ and ‘date of birth’ of every student in a class. For each student who is under, over or exactly six years old, a new stroke is added to the corresponding box in the tally sheet in example 13. These strokes can be grouped five-by-five (or follow local practice) to help count the total number of occurrences in each box. The tally counts can then be summarized in the right-hand columns for further analysis.
Summary tables – are another important form (or transformation) of school records. Taking example 13 above, the tally counts in the right-hand columns can be further transformed into a summary table, as shown in example 14 below.
Summary tables serve the dual purpose of synthesizing detailed individual data into numbers in a structured table so they can be directly analysed, interpreted and used for monitoring and management. On the other hand, and as illustrated in the percentages on the right-hand side of example 14, the summary counts on the left can be used to calculate indicators to better assess the situation, identify problems and issues, and support decision-making at the school and higher levels of the education administration.
The percentages on the right-hand side of example 14 show that only a little over half (53.4%) of the students in Grade 1 are of the correct age, whereas a third (33.3%) are over-aged and 13.3% are under-aged for Grade 1. There are proportionally less girls than boys who are of the correct age or over-aged, but there is a greater tendency for girls to be enrolled early (under-aged). using such a summary table, we can quickly see the differences between the access of boys and girls to Grade 1 in this school, in order to identify ways of reducing over-aged and under-aged enrolments.
An additional benefit of the summary tables is that, very often, such tables can be designed and generated to sum up individual school records in ways that correspond to the data tables in the school census questionnaire or school reports. during the school census, the already tal- lied and summarized data can be directly copied or transferred into the school censuses question- naire, or can be used to prepare standard tables in school reports. This will considerably reduce the time and workload of having to search for data and tally individual records each time the school has to respond to the school census or submit reports.
Take for example the key summary table showing student enrolment by grade and age. This table can be produced by tallying and summarizing the number of students by age, grade and sex using the summary lists of students for each class in the school.
Figure 2 shows at a glance how data and information in the original school records can be trans- formed into summary lists, tally sheets and summary tables to be used in further analysis and report- ing. Some of these summaries can be directly copied into the corresponding tables in the annual school census questionnaire, and used in school reports. More importantly, indicators (including those for EFA monitoring) can be calculated from the tallied counts and presented in sum- mary tables. The summary lists and tables together with indicators can be further analysed and interpreted to give a more complete and in-depth picture about what is happening in schools and how is progress towards achieving the eFA goals in the local area.
Of particular relevance to the information in the school records are other data about the local popu- lation by gender, age-group, literacy level, educational attainment, employment, occupation, pov- erty and household conditions. Such data are often available from local government offices, or can be obtained from the national statistics office. They are used to calculate many EFA indicators such as enrolment ratios, intake rates, literacy rates, gender parity index (see Module A3), and for identifying the ‘unreached’ out-of-school children and youth as described in the next section.
7.2 ‘Reaching the unreached’
due to their proximity to the local population, often school staff, local government officials and/or development bodies have more detailed and precise information about the disadvantaged popula- tion in the local area. They can tell us:
- Who are the disadvantaged population?
- Where are they?
- What are their learning needs?
- What are their difficulties in accessing and participating in education?
- How well do they learn in school?
Such data can help us to know who and where are the ‘unreached’ children, and their characteristics and needs, so that appropriate measures can be taken to encourage them and help them to partici- pate in and complete basic education within the eFA perspective of ‘reaching the unreached’.
Through daily contacts between teachers and students, and through frequent interactions between the school management and local communities, school authorities can gather information about children in the local area who are not attending school, plus those who have dropped out of school. Preliminary records may be made of their where-abouts using information from local government bodies. The school manager and teachers can then make follow-up visits to the households in order to collect more detailed information about who exactly are these ‘unreached’ children, and to under- stand the circumstances and reasons for them not attending school. Based on the findings of these visits, more effective strategies and measures can be taken to reach these unreached children.
Other relevant data can be obtained from civil registrations, household surveys, and other sources about the conditions of health, nutrition and sanitation of the local population, parents’ employ- ment and occupation, and about early childhood care and schooling in the local area. This infor- mation can be analysed alongside school record data and summaries about grade repetition and incidents of drop-outs, so as to better understand the challenges facing education in the local area, and for new actions to be defined and implemented.
With respect to more advanced use of data and information contained in the school records to reach the unreached, please refer to Training Modules A3 and A4 for more details about indicators and data analysis, and about the use of information for monitoring, planning and management of educa- tion, plus Training Module A5 for information about data flow and information dissemination.
Examine existing school records in your school, district, province or country and classify them according to the four forms shown in Examples 1, pp. 12-14. Relate them to Figure 2 to deter- mine how each kind of school record can be used, and then answer the following questions:
For school managers and staff:
- What are the main forms of school records in your school? Please list the existing records and indicate to which of the four forms they correspond (individual records, summary lists, tally sheets or summary tables).
- how do you use each kind of existing school records?
- Which existing school record(s) can be further transformed into summary lists, tally sheets or summary tables? how can the resulting summaries be used?
- how would you improve the use of school records for the purposes (a), (b) and (c) in the first paragraph of this section 7?
For district and local education officers and school inspectors:
- What are the main forms of school records in the schools in your area? Please list the existing school records and indicate to which of the four forms they correspond (individual records, summary lists, tally sheets or summary tables).
- how should the district and local education offices use the data and information contained in each kind of existing school record?
- Which existing school record(s) should be further transformed into summary lists, tally sheets or summary tables for use by the district and local education offices? What kind of summaries? how will they be used?
- What should be done in order to improve the use of school records for the purposes (a), (b) and (c) in the first paragraph of this section 7?
For central and provincial education administrators :
- To your knowledge, what are the main forms of school records that are used in the schools in your country or province? Please list some of the existing school records and indicate to which of the four forms they correspond (individual records, summary lists, tally sheets or summary tables).
- how should the data and information contained in each kind of existing school records be used by the central and provincial education administration?
- Which existing school record(s) can be further transformed into summary lists, tally sheets or summary tables for use by the central and provincial education administration? What kind of summaries? how will they be used?
- What should be done to improve the use of school records for the purposes (a), (b) and (c) in the first paragraph of this section 7?