This serves as a supplement to our introductory help article, "Creating and editing reports".
Our Reports features help our users create nuanced and detailed, exportable spreadsheets to use data to inform their practice. Here are some tips and tricks from users to help you build functional reports to meet your needs.
Start with your question, and use the corresponding tabs
Most of us build and use reports because we're trying to find the answer to our questions, and the reporting tabs organize exportable fields to help you do just that. Because there's so much flexibility to build and customize reports, there's lots of different ways to build the same, or similar reports. Starting with your question and using the best fit tab will make it easier to organize and find reports as you save them, and build new ones, over time.
Consider our reporting tabs:
Here are some common types of reports for each tab:
- Students: typically used for student lists, including contact information, GPA/SAT scores, or log in attempts
- College Lists: understand trends on students' My Colleges lists, including but not limited to:
- College type (public, private) and location (in-state, out-of-state) trends
- Number of colleges on students' lists (requires creating graphs or pivot tables)
- Academic Fit
- Career Lists: understand trends on students' My Careers lists, including but not limited to:
- Career type and cluster trends
- Completion of career survey
- Number of careers on students' lists (requires creating graphs or pivot tables)
- Programs Lists: understand the trends on students' My Programs lists, including but not limited to:
- Type of programs that students are following
- If an application is required for the program(s) of interest
- Career cluster associated with the program
- Applications: understand trends about college applications and financial aid, including but not limited to:
- Decision timelines (Early or Regular decision)
- Financial aid award letter status, and types and amounts of aid awarded
- Application status (submitted, admitted, et cetera)
- Admissions Documents: document types and status (sent, downloaded), by student and/or college
- Course Plans: which students have added specific courses on different grade levels
- Educator Lists: educator role and information, and groups of students (e.g. My Caseload)
Use common naming conventions, and save your reports
Consider the question you're trying to answer based on the report tabs, and include other pertinent information (to reference specific groups included, or the school year, if relevant). If I want to create a report to see where students in the class of 2021 have been admitted, instead of, "college apps" I might name the report "Class of 2021 College Admittances".
Once you create the report, make sure to Save Report.
Let's say that for the report above, I realized I only included the NCES IDs of the colleges that admitted my students, but I also want to know the college names. I can simply select "Edit Current Report" and add that field:
Filters are your friend
Sometimes you might want to be able to export a wide range of information, but other times, you might have a very specific question you're hoping to answer. In the latter case, use filters to narrow the information included in your report. In my sample question above ("Where have the students of the class of 2021 been admitted?"), I can use filters to make this analysis easier.
I included two filters:
The first filter, "Graduation Year" will now only include students in the class of 2021 in my report.
I included two values in my "Admissions Status" filter. Each application can only have one "status", so when students enroll, they change the status from "accepted" to "enrolled". Including both values helps me ensure that I capture all data for admittances.
Using filters while building your report helps you streamline your data analysis because you choose only the information you need. It also makes analysis easier because you're working with a smaller data set.
When building reports about students or colleges, include the ID (Student ID, or NCES ID, respectively). This is typically a best practice, especially for more complex analyses, particularly if you're referencing information across different spreadsheets or platforms (like an internal server or API).
Organize your columns before exporting
When you create a custom report, columns are organized based on the way we order them in the dropdown menu; however, this might not always be the order you want displayed in your exportable spreadsheet. Let's say that at my school, we assign counselor caseload based on last name, so I want that to be my farthest left column to help me organize the information more easily for my team. When I first create the report though, my columns are in this order:
As you see, you can simply drag the columns to reorder them, so in this case, I would select "Student Last Name" and drag it to the far left of the report:
After dragging the column to the left, my columns are in the order I want:
I don't need to do anything to save this column order, my columns will remain this way until I make further changes to this report (like adding additional information and then dragging and reordering columns again).
Now, your report is ready for export!