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Educators must take utmost care with student contact information

Richard Jones Archive

Educators have a host of logistical challenges that they're forced to juggle every day, but perhaps one of the most important is that of address verification. When you're working with a large student body and you have deep reserves of contact information on file for each member, you need to ensure 100 percent accuracy. You never know when you might need to contact a student or their family in a timely fashion.

When mistakes happen in this area, they can be catastrophic. One notable example recently emerged from Long Island, New York, where an error in managing student contact information resulted in numerous standardized test scores being sent to the wrong households.

According to Times Beacon Record Media, many parents of middle school children visited the district offices in Port Jefferson to complain that their math and English exams from last year were sent to incorrect addresses. Ken Bossert, superintendent of Port Jefferson schools, told the news source it was a troubling issue - "something that has occupied every moment of the past two days," and his office was working hard to fix the problem and move on.

"This error was isolated to a single file used for a specific purpose," Bossert said. "All of our systems have been and are currently accurate and secure. The reports were prepared by the New York State Education Department, and are accurate."

Even if these mistakes are fixable, they are still glaring issues that school districts need to be more proactive about addressing. Needless to say, waiting for problems to arise and then dealing with them after the fact is not the best approach. If school systems make data quality a priority in the first place, they'll be much better equipped to prevent such embarrassing mistakes from ever occurring.