Communication within a school is very important, to ensure activities and resources are coordinated to the best possible effect. ParentPaperwork already significantly improves the availability and sharing of information throughout a school, starting with providing an aggregated view of all the online forms and broadcasts moving between school and parents and students, plus via our approval workflows and notifications.
We’ve now added a much-requested feature – sending notifications about Slips and Broadcasts to any nominated staff member, or groups of staff.
When you set up a new Slip or Broadcast you can nominate individual staff members or groups of staff to receive a notification that the message has been sent, along with a link to view the Slip or Broadcast.
In the ‘Send copy to Users/User Groups’ field start typing the name of a User or a User Group, and select the correct one from the drop down search results.
You can choose any number of Users and/or User Groups.
When the Slip or Broadcast is sent out, an email notification will now also be sent to all of the Users you have selected.
The link in email will open to a read only preview of the Slip or Broadcast.
The ParentPaperwork Dashboard has been completely overhauled with a new analytics-based version.
The new Dashboard concisely and elegantly displays key indicators providing you with the ability to analyse your data collection process. It enables you to know “how things are going”, giving you insights and enabling you to track comparisons against a time series and global averages.
A key goal we believe should be that all parents return their ParentPaperwork forms by the Due Date. So the Dashboard gives you a number of measures:
What percentage of your Slips are returned within the first 24 hours, and how this compares to the global average across all our schools?
The average number of hours before a Slip is returned;
The percentage of your Slips that are returned by the Due Date;
The proportion of your parents who return their Slips by the Due Date.
There are also metrics of interest to your school’s marketing and communications team, for example how many times a month are you sending Slips and Broadcasts to parents?
Plus we believe that environment considerations are super important so we’ve included analysis to give you a sense of the impact on the environment through your decision to implement ParentPaperwork.
Our Data Scientist Juan Daza has written a great blog post giving the details of how we assembled and created the analysis – really worth a read to gain an understanding of the techniques and thinking behind the statistics.
If your metrics are tracking below the global average there may be some strategies that can be deployed to improve the results – our team has a range of tips and tracks and we encourage you to contact us to discuss ideas. For example, enabling SMS notifications can often improve response rates.
Practical actions are still present on the new Dashboard, in the right hand column. You can start a new online form, and there are alerts for outstanding actions that are your responsibility. There’s also a new list of Slips at Due Date, highlighting Slips that are close to or just past their Due Date, with a quick check of the responses received so far.
The new Analytics Dashboard is available to all ParentPaperwork schools. If you still see the ‘old’ Dashboard after logging in, look for the Switch to new Analytics Dashboard link at the top right.
We welcome all of your feedback about the Dashboard or any aspect of ParentPaperwork. The Analytics Dashboard is the precursor to some very exciting new features around reporting and analytics you can expect from ParentPaperwork in the coming months.
University of Melbourne, Masters of Information Technology student Juan Daza shares his experience interning as a Data Scientist at ParentPaperwork across the Australian summer.
The University of Melbourne currently runs the Tin Alley internship program where students have the opportunity to apply to great companies in Victoria. Tin Alley has been named Australia’s best internship program and I was honored to be a part of this summer’s intake. One of the companies who gave students the opportunity to get hands on experience was ParentPaperwork and I have been working with the team in the role of Data Scientist.
In this blog post, I want to take you through part of my journey and ParentPaperwork’s goal to empower hundreds of schools with tools to make better informed decisions and more importantly, reach a 100% response rate from parents to slips.
I believe that the first step to make informed decisions is to have the facts and information at hand, which is why one of my main tasks was to assist in the development of the real-time analytical dashboard with key metrics for schools to understand their patterns of use and behaviours.
Data visualisation is a powerful tool in any Data Scientist’s tool box, so I set out to explore the data using Python and SQL and through multiple iterations develop simple yet powerful and self-explanatory visualisations.
I found key metrics that would allow schools to understand their current situation and trigger their curiosity. In conjunction with the team at ParentPaperwork I defined the following metrics.
Average response rate (AVR): This is defined as the number of parents who respond to the slips sent to them.
Average response time (AVT): The average time it takes parents to respond the slips received.
Slips returned by due date: The percentage of slips that are returned before the due date.
Timely parents: The number of parents that respond before the slip’s due date.
Total Number of forms and broadcast sent.I was mindful of the importance of having the right data displayed at the right time which is why I made sure that my data cleansing process was thorough.
In many cases, slips are sent to both parents and only one parent responds which means that if I calculated the response rate based on the available data, then the number would be biased because I would always have one responded slip and one unanswered slip. I had to develop some cleansing techniques to deal with this fact and get a clean and unique dataset from which I could query freely. I tested some powerful Python functions to wrangle ParentPaperwork’s large dataset and to find the correct dataset to achieve what I wanted to do.
I had to take additional considerations whilst analysing other metrics. As an example, while analysing the average response time from our parents I found an interesting fact. My calculations of the arithmetical average response time were of roughly 80 hours. This meant that on average, a parent responded to a slip every 80 hours or around 3 days. This is an amazing turnaround since paper based forms have a turnaround of around two weeks or more.
However, once I drilled down to the data I found some interesting insights. To look further into this, I set out to understand parents behaviour and I analyzed the response rate progression in the first 30 hours. I thought that the best way to do this was to visualise the behavior of this metric within the first hours of having sent it.
Figure 1. Completion Percentage per Time to Complete
We can clearly see how responses behave. At first, there are very timely parents that respond within a couple of hours and as time passes by, slips get more and more responses making the average response rate higher. Eventually it would reach the Global Average Response Rate which is around 75%
After this, I wanted to understand how many responses are received once the slips are sent. I developed a histogram to get an answer to this question.
Figure 2. Response Frequency per Time to Respond
As it can be seen from the graph, parent responses have a very long tail, however most responses received occur in the first 30 hours of sending the slips. At the time of writing this article, around 60% of the responses were received during the initial 30 hours.
Taking this into account, I decided to calculate the weighted average based on the amount of responses received in each time slot. Using this method, I found an average of approximately 9 hours which is a very impressive number. Additional considerations such as night hours might be taken into account to adjust the average response time but in this instance, I will not go further into it.
Answers to many more questions were developed by following a thorough process where I drilled down in the data to find useful hints. I created groups of parents and found those who consistently respond late (or don’t respond) and determined based on the time of day what are the response times and response rates overall. All of these features will be rolling out gradually to help schools make better decisions. This comes to show how at ParentPaperwork various techniques are deployed to work towards making it a data driven organisation.
Stay tuned because over the coming months more news about the upcoming Data Analysis module will be released. The new Analytics Dashboard is now available to all ParentPaperwork schools.
We have big news for ParentPaperwork schools to kick off 2017! We are pleased to announce the launch of our most important new feature in twelve months – sending online forms to Students.
Hundreds of schools in seven countries now use ParentPaperwork to send online forms to their parents and staff, and capture and report the responses – and they all see huge savings in time and money as a result.
We listen carefully to the feedback from our schools – and for some months they’ve been saying how much they love the current modules, but then list all the forms they need to send to students, like sports registrations, subject electives selection, school council elections, student surveys; and prefect voting.
The ParentPaperwork team mused on this feedback for a couple of months and figured out the best way to deliver student form functionality to our schools customers. Over the Australian summer our tech team has worked hard to create this new functionality and we’re very proud to reveal it to you.
A new Module within the ParentPaperwork Suite
Now when you set up a new form, you have the choice of it being completed by either the parent or the student. You can also ask that a read only copy be sent to the other – so send a form to parents with cc to students; or send a form to students with a cc to parents. Everybody gets kept in the information loop – no unnecessary surprises!
We’re very excited about this brilliant new functionality. The ParentPaperwork team is proud to offer it at no charge to all our current full suite subscription customers (those with both Parent Slips and School Forms modules). We will be charging for this feature for newbies in the year ahead, so this is our special gift to you for your input, ideas and savvy!
Traditional paper-based processes are quite simply broken and no longer workable in today’s world, where accountability, risk management and statutory compliance are critical issues for school leaders globally. ParentPaperwork provides your school with a robust, secure system to replace all your paper forms.
With the launch of our new Slips to Students functionality we can confidently say ParentPaperwork is easily the most comprehensive, fully featured, administration data capture, management and reporting platform for K-12 schools, kinders and ELC’s in the world. And it’s all built and managed right here in Melbourne, Australia, with customers as far afield as the Czech Republic, Canada and Portugal.
This is just the start of what we’ve planned to be a huge year! The ParentPaperwork team has several major new features slated for 2017 and I can’t wait to tell you all about them over the coming months, especially the forthcoming Metrics and Data Analysis Module!
Many parents will be sent multiple Slips to be completed at various times, so it’s likely at any given time a particular parent might be responsible for completing and submitting more than one Slip.
Email and SMS notifications will be sent to the parent for each individual Slip and Student and the Parent can click through to each Slip from each notification – but that means the parent has to switch back and forth between their email program and web browser. The issue is exacerbated for those with twins in the same class, or when the Slip has been sent to multiple Student Lists which include more than one child with the same contacts.
To help make the parent’s task easier, ParentPaperwork now displays a list of outstanding Slips in two places. We believe this offers a much smoother process when someone has more than one Slip needing to be completed, they can simply click through to the next one both from the online form page and the Thank You emails.
Parent Slip Page
When the Parent submits an online form, if they have any other outstanding Slips these are displayed at the top of the page (up to 4 Slips).
Parent Slip Thank You Email
When someone submits a Slip online form a ‘thank you’ email is sent to them, this also includes a list of up to four other outstanding Slips.
If you work in a typical school then you’re about to begin one of the largest and most important behind-the-scenes tasks in your school year.
You’ll be sending out re-enrolment forms, Year Level contact forms and seeking to update medical details for the student body. This is a 5 to 6 week epic journey that includes:
preparing the forms
preparing the data
sending the forms to parents – post, schoolbag, general email
chasing form return
inputting updated data into your student management system
checking for mistakes and inaccuracies
collating the data
crossing fingers that it’s all okay
What’s the secret way?
Yet this whole process could be much, much easier. It’s a secret that ParentPaperwork schools know and have been keeping from you! Schools who use ParentPaperwork remove the human labour component and let technology do the work for them. Using our platform to distribute your forms and capture and report your data, can reduce the time it takes to complete the re-enrolment process to a matter of days.
The school and parents are the winners here!
We know from the experienced educators on our team, that parents dread receiving the annual student update and re-enrolment forms and greet them mentally as one would the family member who makes a scene at Christmas lunch every year. They’ve got to be attended to but every minute spent filling them out is done through gritted teeth.
On ParentPaperwork your re-enrolment forms can capture:
commitments to policies
any other data that you need to capture from parents before the school year commences.
And something that will really get you excited…
Once you have this information captured ParentPaperwork will pre-fill on future re-enrolment forms. Meaning parents are not filling out the same information, like Medicare numbers and Ambulance details over and over.
We have to ask – what would the value of this elegant re-enrolment solution be to your school community?
Setting up for 2017 – Current Customers
In the meantime, current ParentPaperwork schools are thinking about getting ready for the 2017 school year. Here are some common tasks to consider for later in December or in January:
Move students who left at the end of 2016 to a new Student List;
Remove students from Year Level and Class Student Lists;
Re-import your students and parents to ensure existing students are allocated to the correct Student Lists; and new students and parents records are created;
Archive Slips from last year so whilst they are easily accessible, they’re not displayed by default when you are viewing your Parent Slips list;
Disable staff who have left the school; add new Staff Users.
Back to School Forms
ParentPaperwork is the perfect solution for all your global or blanket permission forms: photo permissions; policy consents; head lice checks and the forms you wish parents to complete and return before day one, term one 2017.
Once your students and parents for 2017 are organised in ParentPaperwork it is a doddle to set up your Back to School forms and distribute. Then you can sit back and watch as the responses roll in.
We’d be delighted to help you get ready for 2017. If you’d like assistance setting up your students/parents, and/or sending out back to school forms, please email email@example.com
The current Student List selector has been a little problematic for schools with many Student Lists, so we have added a ‘typeahead’ box at the top of the box displaying available Lists on the left side. Simply start typing the name of the List you are looking for and the available options will automatically filter to reflect the text you enter.
It’s a easy way to quickly locate the Student List you need amongst dozens or hundreds.
Obviously it’s important to have your students organised in way that makes sense for your school, and then be able to select those via the Student Lists when you wish to send out a Slip or Broadcast.
Some of our larger ParentPaperwork schools over time have amassed a great many Student Lists. Others are maintaining a large number just day to day because we are not just pulling Year Levels, Home Rooms lists from their student database, but subject classes, co-curricular and others. The new typeahead feature makes finding and selecting Lists super simple.
The same works in reverse, if you have selected a large group of Student Lists you can locate one to remove from the Slip/Broadcast by typing the name of the desired list into the box at the top of the right hand column of selected Lists.
ParentPaperwork allows you to create a School Form and send it to multiple staff members for completion. An obvious example would asking a group of staff to accept an ICT usage policy.
Create the Form
To create a copy of the Form for multiple staff select the School Form template, and change the drop down ‘This Form is for me’ to ‘No’. Select the names of the Staff who need to complete the form. If there is a file that needs to be attached then click Add Files.
When ready click the Save New Form and a Draft will be created. If all details are correct click the Complete button. A copy of the Form will be created for each of the selected Staff.
Notification to Staff Members
An email notification will be sent to each of the selected Staff members, with a link to their copy of the Form.
Staff Open the Form
When the Staff member clicks their link their copy of the Form will open, with the Form assigned to them.
Staff Edit the Form
The Staff member edits the Form as if they had created it, they click the Edit Form button, enter information into the fields, and click the Save Form button.
Staff Complete the Form
Once the Staff member is happy with the information they have entered they click the Complete button to submit the Form.
Note you can set up additional workflow steps, for example, to send a notification to other Staff on submission, or to request Approval.
ParentPaperwork is a constantly evolving product, as new exciting features are continually added in response to all the feedback from our schools.
That also means that we have to make sure that we keep all of our support and help information up to date.
We have recently finished a big update of all of our tutorial videos, which now reflect ParentPaperwork’s current interface. New videos have been added for more recent features, in order to help our schools use ParentPaperwork as seamlessly as possible.
There are now more than a dozen videos up on the support page which will help you with some of the most common features in ParentPaperwork. These videos are simple, basic and understandable.
Here are some examples of the help videos we have compiled:
The online form submissions from parents using ParentPaperwork can now be analysed with charts and graphs. We have reorganised the Parent Slip page and added three tabs – Slip, Responses and Analysis.
This displays the Slip preview/overview as before.
The list of Responses for a Slip that previously hid at the bottom of the page now has its own tab, making it much easier to access, you don’t need to scroll all the way down the page anymore – something a number of people had commented on as being a little annoying.
The Analysis tab will display a chart for each ‘closed response’ question on the Slip. So select lists and checkboxes which have a closed list of answers will automatically have bar graphs created. There is a Print button that will open a new page wiht the charts formatted for printing, one chart per page. You could also screen shot a chart if you need to include it in another document in Microsoft Word or Powerpoint as part of a presentation.
The top chart will always be the ‘Contact Response’ – the mauve field in the Form Template Designer, the main question that must be on all Slips. The rest of the charts will then display in order below.
You might be using ParentPaperwork to survey parents, or capture their orders for fundraising products – but we know that most people respond positively to visual representations of data. It’s fine giving you Excel exports and lists of numbers and values, but a chart offers a simple and effective way of quickly analysing the results of your parent’s online form submissions – whatever the questions you asked.
We’re looking at further opportunities to utlise the data you are capturing and reporting in ParentPaperwork, we believe there’s much more that can we can do to help you understand and interpret the data, and we think everyone will agree this new analysis feature is a great step forward.