Marie Kondo Meets School Data Erin Werra by Erin Werra Erin Werra Data Duster Read time: Meet Marie Kondo: the sprightly organization master changing lives across the world. Her method sparked a bestselling book, a Netflix series, and a new way of taming clutter. Unfortunately, she hasn’t yet devised a method of tidying data. That’s where we come in. Welcome to the life-changing magic of tidying up student records with Skyward. The method Kondo’s method combines cleaning with ritual, and obviously not everything will translate (it’s pretty hard for school data to truly “spark joy,” for example). One of the biggest parts of tidying up is acknowledging the important role the items have served in the owner’s life as they are discarded. One way to translate this gratitude is simply to acknowledge the important role of serving as a good steward of school data. The categories Kondo’s home-tidying method is based on categories in a specific order: clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous, and mementos. Translating those to school data holds many possibilities. Loaned resources Resources, such as books and devices, can add up quickly if they’re misplaced. Luckily, resource tracking has its own special place in Skyward. Condition ratings are built into this tracking system, so items can be retired when they no longer spark joy through usefulness. Forms When Marie Kondo helps families purge their libraries, she spends time “waking up” the books, often long since cracked, before the owners decide which to keep. How much time would you spend “waking up” outdated forms, file folders, and cabinets of paper? How many forms could be moved online to save space and time? Check out these ideas for using Skyward custom forms to slash the paperwork piles and track data outside of the predefined fields in the system. Mismatched formats Years’ worth of data merits a good scrub from time to time. Check for consistency with titles, names, prefixes, and suffixes. For example, if two educators appear as Dr. Georgia K. James and James Q. Johnson, M.D., you will want to ensure consistency. Two major avoidable data entry errors result in mismatched formats: incomplete data and duplicate data. Learn 10 strategies, reports, and tools needed to catch and correct these inconsistencies. FERPA and permanent records Personally identifiable information (PII) includes any data which may reveal the identity of a student, even indirectly (such as through demographic information or disability status). PII is covered under FERPA, which protects students’ data including identification numbers, transcripts, discipline records, contact information, and class schedules. It is always a good idea to review who has access to this information, since FERPA requires third parties to comply with all requirements to protect student data. Much of this information is also subject to records retention guidelines from state education agencies. These can vary, but this high-level primer from a former SIS manager provides some guidelines for retention. If your district's data is in need of some de-cluttering, maybe it's time to give it the Marie Kondo treatment. Use these Skyward tools, strategies, and processes to bring order back to your student data and spark joy among its stewards. Happy cleaning! Follow-up resource: Fighting ransomware Learn the ropes to keep your data safe from attack in School Districts for Ransom. Erin Werra Data Duster Follow Erin Werra: . Share this story: Want tips, tricks, and feature updates delivered to your inbox once a month? Sign up here!