KASB new annual surveys now open

by Ted Carter, tcarter@kasb.org

Earlier this month, KASB made available a new method for submitting the annual survey data we ask our member districts to provide. Previously this information had been collected via an external website requiring a separate login access code. Now these surveys have been added to the KASB Member Portal so that anyone with Account Administrator rights can update the information for his or her district.

However, the location isn’t the only thing that has changed. Here are some other features that members might be excited about:

Number of surveys reduced from 10 to 6

Previously KASB asks districts to submit 10 surveys annually, plus submit their Election results every other year, and provide a copy of their teacher salary schedule each year. Staring with the 2020-21 school year, there are six annual surveys and the Election survey every other year, along with the annual submission of the teacher salary schedules. The list of surveys is as follows:

  1. Calendar: This survey contains most of the information from the previous calendar survey minus some that have been moved to the Teacher and Policies surveys.
  2. Elections: This survey asks for counts of individuals falling into certain categories related to the school board elections every two years to supplement the information provided on each individual board member.
  3. Fees: his survey asks for information on the individual fees charged by each district in a variety of categories.
  4. Policies: All the data previously collected on other surveys that speaks to district policies have been gathered into one survey. This includes questions previously asked on the Other Staff, Calendar, Fees, Supplemental, and Retirement surveys.
  5. Staff: The data previously collected via the Superintendent, Principal, Central Office Staff, and Other Staff Surveys have been consolidated into one survey. The format for the kinds of data provided will be more flexible depending on the data available and in what format it is kept by each district.
    Supplemental: This survey asks for information on the individual supplemental pay categories for each district.
  6. Teacher: This survey asks for all information related to teachers previously collected on the Calendar, Employee Relations, and Teacher Contracts surveys.

More flexibility for submitting data

For each new school year, KASB now creates a new record for each district showing the responses from the previous year that have likely not changed and will ask districts to go in and update whatever has changed for the current year. This should reduce the amount of time it takes to complete each survey.

For the Fees, Staff, and Supplemental surveys, which ask districts to provide multiple responses per year, KASB copies previous responses over for the current school year and allows districts to update them using the portal, but we also give districts the option of using an Excel template to submit this information. On the portal, district staff can update records pulled over from the previous year, create new records, and mark existing records for deletion. Via Excel, districts have the option of using a blank template or can request a template pre-populated with last year’s responses to submit. Data submitted via Excel will replace the records copied over from the previous years for districts using this option.

Formal submission signoff process

A few years back, KASB changed the nature of the submission process to allow districts to return to previously submitted data and updated it as more, better, or revised information became available. This was done to make the submission process more flexible and to reflect the fact that this data is considered living and evolving rather than static. However, this presents challenges when it comes to determining what has been submitted and what still needs to be submitted.

In terms of timing, KASB did away with actual set deadlines for surveys and has no plans to reinstate specific cut-off dates for any data collection. We ask the districts try to submit the data to us as early as possible based on the availability of time to complete and of the data elements themselves. We will continue to work on finding a good balance between providing timely and effective reminders about sending this data to us and not causing undue stress or frustration with too many communications about this process.

To make it easier to track what districts have submitted and what still needs to be reviewed and revised, KASB is reintroducing a sign-off feature for all surveys. KASB now includes a “Verified by District” checkbox on each survey, and this field will be used to determine what surveys are marked incomplete on each district’s list. When the survey data is copied over for a new school year, all the surveys have the “Verified by District” box unchecked. Once a district staff person opens the survey, makes any necessary changes, and then clicks the “Verified by District” box, the survey will no longer appear on their list to complete.

This gives districts several options for submitting data, including opening, updating, and saving a survey’s data multiple times before checking the “Verified by District” box or opening, updating, checking “Verified by District,” and saving, then returning to the survey at a later time if a value needs to be revised. Districts can also choose to have certain staff members add and update data, then escalate to another staff member to review and verify.

Improved accessibility of data

Based on member feedback, we have made several enhancements designed to make it easier to use the data provided by member districts. Some examples are:

  • All users can view read-only versions of all survey forms from any member district.
  • Forms can be printed for review and archiving.
  • Non-USD members can now submit data.
  • Data is provided onscreen in grids (tables), in an Excel file that provides comparisons based on several factors, and in online interactive tools created in Microsoft’s Power BI.
  • Survey data is now tied to all other district data in our system for an improved ability to analyze and create reports that span multiple sources and types of data.

More training resources

We worked to simplify the existing KASB Data Steward Handbook and make it applicable to both administrative and non-administrative users, so it has been replaced by the KASB Data Handbook. In addition, several videos have been created to show both how to work with the surveys and also how to work with the portal in general.

The following lists the resources available on the Tutorials page of the Member Portal:

User Manuals (PDF)

General Video Tutorials

Working with the Portal

Working with KASB Data

Administrator Video Tutorials

Working with Account (District) Contacts

Working with KASB Data

Video Playlists

Evolution

It has been a long process to get to where we are today with the new surveys within the Member Portal, but there is still work to be done. Members who are accessing the surveys already are helping us find any kinks in the system, and we are addressing these as rapidly as possible. Luckily there have not been very many such issues, and KASB expects nothing but continued improvement and enhancement as we move forward.

I encourage you to spend some time checking out the new surveys and hope that you will provide us any feedback you might have. If you have any questions about the new surveys and/or the data from them, contact me at tcarter@kasb.org.

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