5 Tips for Getting Quality Data in School Settings
It's that time of year again!  School is back in full swing.  For many of us, that means it's "time to collect the data."  If you work with students, accurate data collection is essential to tracking the impact of your program.  Here are five of our favorite things to do when collecting data in schools.

Respect the school calendar

Check the school calendar in advance.  Avoid collecting data during major testing periods or right before holiday breaks.


Keep it short

We've said it before and we'll say it again!  Students and teachers are often asked to complete multiple surveys in a year by many different programs.  To improve participation, keep yours short by including only your most important questions.


Engage school personnel

Create written guides for homeroom teachers and other school staff to help them administer the surveys.  They are your go-to resource for getting the job done well.  Make sure to give them your contact information and stay readily available for questions and trouble-shooting.


Review the data early

Take a look at the data in the early stages to see if there are problems in how people are answering questions.  There may be a problem with either the tool or data collection process.  Correct any snafus before they affect the final results.


Use incentives

Acknowledging people with a "thank you" is one of the best incentives you can use.  Tangible incentives, as allowed, also help show your survey administrators and participants that you appreciate their time and attention.  Small gift cards, certificates of appreciation, and pizza parties are a few of the ones we like.  If tangible incentives are not allowed, check with the school about options like extra credit for students.

When it's all said and done, don't forget to share some of the results with the school.  Seeing how the data are used is one of the important steps you can take to generate support for future data collection.

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