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New Software Aims to Figure Out Where Students Have Gone

The North Carolina company has partnered with hundreds of school districts and thousands of schools, helping them take their records management systems from hard copies and filing cabinets to a more secure digital space.

paper records
As more students opt for virtual learning and enrollment at schools decline, a North Carolina records management company says it has the tools to help track where students have gone, and how to retain them.

Scribbles Software provides a cumulative records management system for K-12 school districts with the hopes of helping schools go paperless. Among the company’s offerings include ScribTransfer, a tool that school districts can use to request the transfer of student records from other districts, among other features. Bridget Jones, director of client success at Scribbles, said in an interview with Government Technology that offerings such as ScribTransfer can help schools analyze data, see trends and determine why students have left the school or school district.

“You almost can predict what’s happening in a region or a district or when charter schools become really popular or private schools become really popular,” she said. “You're able to determine quite a bit just by tracking that cumulative folder.”

The data is protected in a secure digital format, she said.

By using a digital portal, it allows school administrators to track a student’s file every step of the way as it moves through a system to create a complete audit trail showing where it was sent, who opened it, how many times it was opened, who it was forwarded to and so on. The data pulled from ScribTransfer not only can help districts identify where students are going — whether they moved out of state or switched to an online academy or local charter school — it can in some cases determine ways to bring a student back. Hypothetically, should a student head to a charter school for a specific program, Scribbles Software then could help the school offer that student the same type of specialty program. She said often it comes down to dollars and cents.

“Each student is tied to a dollar amount. So when the students leave, that money goes as well. And (schools) want to bring more students back in because they need the money to run the schools to pay the teachers to run the buses. The bottom line is money,” Jones said.

If a student heads to a school that doesn’t have digital records, they would scan the file that comes to them and print out the hard copy to put in a filing cabinet, Jones said. The problem there is losing the trail of that file, which contains private information.

“When it's in a paper format or when it's faxed, or it's mailed to you, you truly don't know how many times that folder, that paperwork, that data is opened (and viewed). And it's usually pretty sensitive data,” Jones said. “It's important that we do the best thing for students, and that is taking the time to upload, scan, digitize these records so that they can not only be safely transmitted, but also stored.”

The company, Jones said, has partnered with thousands of schools across about 375 school districts. Should a school using ScribTransfer need to move or transfer a student file, the only way to do so is through the online portal, she said. A school doesn’t have to be a client to be able to send or receive those records that way, though.

“Just being able to use (Scribbles Software) to track where our students are going is helping us to be able to reach out to those students to find out why they are leaving,” Kansas City Public Schools District Registrar Shyla Lewis told Government Technology in an email. “A lot of them are leaving because of something that can actually be changed. And because we're able to track them, we're able to bring them back.”

The platform includes a dashboard that faces the family to file information about their children. The school district handles the files from the back end of the dashboard, Jones said. At any time, families can upload documents, entirely online, and can communicate with the school entirely through the portal, she said.

“What we saw was that most families are completing these … when their kids are going to bed and they can actually focus on completing some of this information,” Jones said. “So you can see that's really what families were looking for, something more flexible and adaptable to their lifestyle.”

In addition to ScribTransfer, Scribbles Software has a number of other tools in its portfolio, including ScribChoice, a feature that gives districts a way to run applications/lotteries on their choice programs online; ScribEnroll, an online enrollment platform where families can enroll their students into a district; and ScribFolders, which lets districts move all of their student information files online as students transition.
Giovanni Albanese Jr. is a staff writer for the Center for Digital Education. He has covered business, politics, breaking news and professional soccer over his more than 15-year reporting career. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Salem State University in Massachusetts.