AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators



LAWG Week: Mya Martin-Glenn & Lisa M. Jones on Evaluation in Public School Districts

We are Mya Martin-Glenn and Lisa M. Jones, and we work in the Division of Accountability & Research at Aurora Public Schools in Colorado. We will be sharing how external evaluators can learn some of the nuances of requesting school data. We also will give you a few hot tips for attending the AEA conference in Denver this October.

Lesson Learned: Know the district policies as well as the federal laws governing student data sharing. There are specific federal laws and rules that govern student data sharing, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

FERPA protects student education records and COPPA requires online sites and services (such as Survey Monkey and others) to provide notice and obtain permission from a child’s parents (for kids 13 years and younger) before collecting personal information from that child.

Hot Tip: Talk with someone in the district prior to requesting student data even if the evaluation is being conducted as a requirement of a grant. See if there is a central research and evaluation division that oversees data sharing with external entities. Also, check with the state – often the data you need is readily available.

Lesson Learned: Be sure you understand data coding. School district personnel download student data from data management systems such as Infinite Campus (IC). Frequently, data are stored in these systems using programmatic codes specific to the school district. It often takes considerable time to download and “clean” the data file for distribution to external evaluators.

Hot Tip: Ask for a “data dictionary” to help with any coding that may be unfamiliar to you.

Rad Resources: Currently our district is working on revising the external data request process, but here are some examples of other school district requirements for collecting data in schools.

Hot Tips: AEA Annual Meeting in Denver

  • Drink plenty of water – Start a week or so before arriving in Denver so your body has a chance to acclimate to the altitude which can be dehydrating.
  • Wear sunscreen and lip balm – Even in October, the mile high city is closer to the sun.
  • Bring your walking shoes – There are a lot of fun places within walking distance of the conference hotels (as well as a Light Rail system)

o   Comedy Works, 1226 15th St.

o   Denver Performing Arts Complex, 950 13th St.

o   Mercury Café, 2199 California St.

o   Denver Microbrew Tour, Great Divide Brewing Company – 303-578-9548

o   Brown Palace Hotel, 321 17th St, High tea is a lovely experienceor take a tour of the historic hotel

We’re thinking forward to October and the Evaluation 2014 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). Registration will soon be open! Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to


1 comment

  • Fran Hoffman · September 16, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Mya and Lisa, thank you for the tips on evaluation in public school districts. My name is Fran Hoffman, and I am a grad student and novice evaluator. Our team has recently begun a program evaluation for a nearby public school district. We foresee using both quantitative and qualitative data and will definitely benefit from the tips on getting the data we need from the district and the state. The links to specific school districts and the information about data coding and the data dictionary were particularly useful. I will be checking back frequently as we move through this process. Thanks again for the information!


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