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MIS Systems Thread, Extracting data from an MIS in Technical; 1. When choosing the file to export, the narrow display box can clip the last characters of file names - ...
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    Re: Extracting data from an MIS

    1. When choosing the file to export, the narrow display box can clip the last characters of file names - often the date.
    We have kept with the use of Reports to extract data because Capita say that these should work.

    2. 'Rolled over' refers to what a SIMS manager does each year. The Y9 file becomes Y10 etc. In schools without a sixth form we are not sure what Y11 becomes. Some schools seem to lose the data altogether, others seem to be able to use the date stamp in our RepDef to retreive the data. If Y11 files have been deleted there is no scope for a school to do its own research in advance of an inspection.

    3. Data exported for the correct cohort sometimes has blank fields e.g. no subjects and grades. We were told that this last problem occurs when a school didn't do its housekeeping 'Export to DMS'.

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    Re: Extracting data from an MIS

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeBostock
    I think it is the case that every secondary school in the land takes exam data from their MIS and then an assistant head (perhaps) processes it in Excel (over 2-3 days?) to make lists to give to subject leaders and Governors. This is a huge expenditure of energy. We have worked with schools to create some simple tools to make the processing of the data easy (a 10 minute job now), but we still have snags getting data out of MIS in a standardised format.
    Perhaps any experts at doing this can contact me off-list about this?
    If anyone is interested in seeing the tools schools in our project are using there is an example at www.4matrix.org/example. Contact me if you would like to try it out in your school.
    Mike I have now had a chance to look closely at your software and am struggling to see anything it can do that my exams officer cannot do for me in 2 minutes using SIMS.
    What are the key features and benefits 4Matrix provides I can't get from my MIS ?

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    Re: Extracting data from an MIS

    I think its untrue that everything needs to be exported to excel, certainly I only did this in CMIS when other people needed to make additions. Te problem is as people have said in this thread that cmis does not come with default reports and forces you to create. Schools and organisations are proprietary about sharing and hence this creates a large amount of duplicaiton.

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    Re: Extracting data from an MIS

    It is excellent if exam officers are able to reliably extract their data from their MIS and process it so rapidly into useful reports for school leaders.

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    Re: Extracting data from an MIS

    Mike

    I can understand that you have a product that performs certain tasks that can make life easier when generating reports and so on, however there are lots of people that can do it from within SIMS too.

    I know that there is very little that we need to do outside of SIMS now too.

    I sometimes wonder about schools that buy into these products to produce reports and to help make judgements on information that is already in school. If the leadership in a school truly wants to understand data and the use of it then they need to sit down and work out what reports they need and want, and not reports based on what a company finds is the best response to the latest set of hoops that a school has been asked to do so.

    If a school spends the time working out how to do it themselves they have a greater understanding and can adapt to fit changing needs ... who knows what RAISEonline will be like next year?

    I know not every school has the capacity to do this, but some schools actually do rely too much on having others provide the answers for them rather than understanding the issues themselves. If tools like this are to be used then it must be as part of the progress to a greater undersand of the role of data.

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    Re: Extracting data from an MIS

    Raise online looks ok, but not really up to the standard of information in Fischer. The fundemental issue here is schools not really having a handle on what their data strategy is and not knowing either how to a) extract data from the managment system or b) have anything to do with it once they have it.

    The questions should be; How are the students doing? Why are they performing like this? What are the interventions we can put in place to change this?

    Most schools and management systems are totally concerned with snapshots of how students are doing not putting targeted interventions in place to change this which is the hard part. All management systems can get out data, the only question should be can it give out the data to allow managment to make changes for the better.

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    Re: Extracting data from an MIS

    Thanks to all who have responded to my original question about whether there are reliable ways to extract a school's data from their MIS.
    For some schools at least I suspect that this will remain an issue that this community would be right to use its collective expertise in order to find solutions to.
    I think schools will need a choice of tools in order to make good use of their data. Different tools will appeal to different people of course.
    What is clear to me is that the use of performance data by schools has a very long way to go, and I expect that in years to come we will think that the tools we are using now are fairly primitive.

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    Re: Extracting data from an MIS

    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeFaux
    The questions should be; How are the students doing? Why are they performing like this? What are the interventions we can put in place to change this?

    Most schools and management systems are totally concerned with snapshots of how students are doing not putting targeted interventions in place to change this which is the hard part. All management systems can get out data, the only question should be can it give out the data to allow management to make changes for the better.
    George I totally agree with the first part of your statement and I also agree that most schools are not unlocking the potential of their data seeing data as something that is returned to DfES/NAW/DENI rather than something that can help pupils improve. At Capita and I'm sure at Serco we do invest significantly in producing tools to analyse data. SIMS is a temporal database i.e. we can set the clock to any point and see how the data was and that allows us to track changes over time. This enables us to track change and help with reporting, target setting etc.

    We have produced a free on-line, MIS independent tool, that allows senior leadership teams to see exactly what an MIS can do to help a school improve. www.dataforimprovement.co.uk

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    Re: Extracting data from an MIS

    Just caught up with this topic so this is going to be a bit disjointed and not really flow with the conversation so appologies for that.

    I have experience of extracting data from CMIS and SIMS - neither of which are exactly a dream to get the data out of, CMIS being slightly better in my experience because of its SQL base.

    This is not a problem that is confined to the world of Educational MIS - almost every accounts department I have ever support have the same problems with software like Sage.

    The usual answer is a third party reporting system like Crystal Reports - although I usually managed to hook them up with what they wanted using an Access Database connected through ODBC (Access reports can be very powerful!).

    There are many reports I just cannot get from CMIS using their report engine (at least I could not when I investigated a couple of years ago) - mainly mutli line reports.

    I resorted to using Access through an ODBC connection to the server and pulling out the data that way - this is, by default, a read only connection so there is very little danger to the data.

    It is, however, a huge job to work out what data is where - particularly attendance and assessment data. But with a bit of work it is possible to set up routines that make it very easy to extract just certain data.

    We have now taken this to the next step beyond that and have Excel spreadsheets that go and refresh themselves from the data - filtering out the data that the parituclar user needs (the same spreadsheet for all users will output different results depending on who is updating it!). It can also tell the difference between the whole school data, like forecast grades and effort grades, and individual departments data like homework results and assignment grades.

    The position we are now in is that a big chunk of our VLE / MLE / VLP is made up of data that gets extracted live from the MIS. Keeping class lists, student lists, staff info etc. up to date with zero maintenance (although according to the Advisors at our LEA this is not possible).

    I think the point I am trying to make is that this is not a problem that is going to go away, and there is not necessarily any magic fix that the MIS companies are going to produce. There are answers out there already that are very legitimate and flexible solutions - yes they will cost either time or money, but then if the MIS companies invest a lot of time in producing these kind of reporting engines then they are not going to give them away for nothing either!

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    Re: Extracting data from an MIS

    Quote Originally Posted by limbo
    but then if the MIS companies invest a lot of time in producing these kind of reporting engines then they are not going to give them away for nothing either!
    All I want is a decent API that doesn't involve shell piping or writing and hosting a web service myself. Just a COM object to call on my own (d'ya see what I did there ).

    This still allows for a level of indirection which means that the software company isn't tied to supporting obsolete data structures.

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    Re: Extracting data from an MIS

    Phil Neal... I agree that SIMS and CMIS has the tools to do a more diagnostic analysis, the problem is the mindset of staff who either do not know how to pull the data out or how to use it properly, the ability to change things in mid flow is difficult and goes against instinct. Fisher, Raise, and MIS data are usually used to sit in a meeting and say this is the situation, no further.

    Limbo we did the same thing using vb scripts to migrate data into excel sheets, we did the sessional attendance and it worked beautifully. Yes SQL is easier to work with but I do think that if you are having to go third party you may as well make your own MIS. Its a real failing we had to do that.

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    Re: Extracting data from an MIS

    @George and Mike

    Both of you fulfill the role of an Analyst for schools. You get them the information they need and help them understand it. That raises theconcern I mentioned about about schools relying on others to understand things they should understand themselves.

    However ... we should remember that using consultants and tools are necessary for a number of schools. It is what can help bring schools up to speed and make them 'good' in their use and understanding of data rather than just 'satisfactory' (or as we were ... we got the dreaded '4' for our use of data). We have worked on this and are now 'Good' but it has been a lengthy understanding process. Some schools cannot take this time or do not have the staff to do it.

    Then you have the 'Excellent' schools ... schools that have got it right and have do it themselves ... and the schools that have got it right, but ahve made the choice to continue using tools as it fits in with them. (see similar threads about schools with RM, or other middleware, not just being about covering for no techies, but being used to free techies up to do other things)

    Getting back to the original idea on this thread though ... are people happy about the prospective processes (or even present ones) for getting data out of MIS and if not what would be their preffered options (remember ... these are commercial companies so asking to go completely Open Source is not exactly going to be the most helpful answer ... )

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    Re: Extracting data from an MIS

    I think a lot of the misunderstandings come from the days when there was only really original SIMS on the market and the data was far less powerful. It is only in the last five or so years that using data heavily at an individual school level has really taken off. A lot of the staff who use the system are very usure when confronted with CMIS or .Net as the flexibility goes against what they know. When I have been into schools directly after a change over the first thing that people want is the new system to do exactly what the old one did before they see anything else.

    However again I'd stress that it is not usually the MIS which fails to give the required data but more the interventions that arise from it. The student who is predicted a U in year 10 on a course is allowed to sit in a class for 2 years in a bottom set when it is obvious that they will fail at the end of year 11.

    The mindset should be, can we get him a G, with extra tuition, with a different teacher, with after school help. If not could we get him a better grade in x if he was removed and allowed to swap bands or go to a different class. What is holding the child back, is it attendance, behaviour, punctuality, relationships. How can we solve this. Can we provide a Teaching assistant, a Learning Mentor, an academic coach. Should we involve SEN, EWO or other agencies. Is there an alternative vocational qualification.

    The mere fact that there is a U anywhere should automatically flag up this conversation but it should also flag up. Why has the student got to year 10 in this condition, why did we not teach them in a different style earlier, who were their teachers, is there an issue there, who were they taught with, would mixed ability be better, what was the learning style used, have they had ongoing pastoral problems.

    To every one of those questions there should be a possible answer, the only thing I am interested in getting out of a management system is who is failing/succeeding, why, and they once an intervention is in place what are we doing about it. The point was raised about outside consultants, I agree that the lack of this type of mindset keeps people like myself in business but I do see a change coming, I see a fair number of non teaching positions designed to do the above in the £20-35k.

    I hope that MIS systems develop to include individual student intervention tracking, Flagging systems which identify failing students, personalised learning information, information and tests to determine learning styles and pastoral summaries.

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    Re: Extracting data from an MIS

    Extracting the data in CMIS is easy manipulating it to usefulness is a pain.

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    Re: Extracting data from an MIS

    As one of our SMT says "There is no point weighing a cow every six weeks if you are not actively doing something to help him loose / gain weight"

    Abstract - but there is a point in there somewhere.

    I got asked to develop a new system for one of our management teams to pull out data and use it to band students into different groups depending on whether they were on track of not based on our assessments. There was a lot of conversation about what triggered somebody being in which group and then, to try and help get some clarity I asked how we are going to then react to each group to see if this led to any obvious ways to group them. They have not got as far as that yet - so they are now thinking about different strategies to raise achievement and they will then decide on the profile of student that will benefit from it.

    My Point? The system is usless without somebody thinking about the process and as such is often the last step - no the first.

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