Assessments, scales, and scoring: How to track progress in Apricot [Video]
In this video, we review best practice models and tools you can use to track and report on participant assessment data in Social Solutions’ Apricot Core and Apricot 360 software.
We know that creating accurate and meaningful reports on program outcomes can be a huge challenge, especially when the data you’re working from is tracked in paper forms or multiple data systems that don’t match up. An Apricot system, if set up well, can truly transform your ability to collect, report on, and analyze assessment data so can quantitatively measure the impact of your programs.
Whether you’re just getting started with assessments or looking to see if you can do it better, the first step is evaluating your form structure and fields in Apricot.
Form design is something you really want to get right, because how your system is configured impacts user experience and adoption, data structure, and reporting. For this reason: start with a blueprint. Answer these questions and see how they inform your vision design:
- What questions do you intend to ask?
- How will you score those questions so that you can track improvement over time?
- How often will you collect assessments? At existing touchpoints, or new?
- How will you collect assessments? Online, verbally, on paper forms?
Apricot has tools to help you meet your goals for each of these questions – see if you can use them to streamline data entry and scoring, collect consistent data, and report on your data efficiently.
To help you explore your options, this video reviews the 4 most common ways to design Apricot forms and use Apricot tools to collect assessment data, so that you can get ideas for your own organization. See how to design forms to track data on your own custom interval, collect backend scores for qualitative measures, and calculate those scores on the form or in reports.
We also cover the top 3 approaches to reporting on assessment scores, averages, and progress using Apricot’s Standard Report tool. Take your program measures to the next level with reports that chart client progress over time, generate aggregate averages and other analytics, and calculate improvement over time.
NOTE: Apricot can append assessment to a Client’s document folder using Connect.
Welcome! This video will cover “Assessments, scales, and scoring: How to track progress in Apricot.” We will be reviewing the different system design and reporting approaches you can apply to your Apricot system for tracking client assessments and reporting on progress and outcomes.
My name is Ally Seidel. I am an Apricot software consultant at Sidekick Solutions. At Sidekick Solutions, we help new and existing users make the most of their Apricot database. We do the heavy lifts of database design and administration, so you can focus on what matters most to you.
We know that creating accurate and meaningful reports on program outcomes can be a huge challenge, especially when the data you’re working from is tracked in paper forms or multiple data systems that don’t match up.
If this sounds like a familiar challenge, the good news is that your Apricot system, if set up well, can truly transform your ability to collect, report on, and analyze client assessment data. Which is why today, we’re going to spend some time walking through the various approaches we recommend and why.
In this video, we will …
- Discuss system design considerations when looking to track assessments in Apricot,
- Explore four design styles to tracking assessment data in Apricot
- Show you 3 primary ways to report on assessment data using Apricot Standard Reports
Okay, so let’s get started.
The first step in assessment tracking is setting up your form structure and fields in Apricot.
Form design is something you really want to get right, because how your system is configured impacts user experience and adoption, data structure, and reporting. When looking to start tracking something new, the goal should always be to design an Apricot system that captures the right data, reinforces accuracy at data entry, and can run reports on that data efficiently using Apricot’s standard tools.
We recommend blueprinting any new configurations in Apricot before you start building.
When thinking about building a system to track assessments, there are a few considerations to keep in mind upfront.
First off, how are you going to collect and enter the information?
This matters, because it impacts how your forms and fields must be set up.
If you’ll be collecting assessments manually, say in paper forms, you’ll need staff to manually enter assessment data post-data collection. This is the most flexible option, in terms of system design, but it is also the most time intensive for your users.
If you want to collect assessments in an online format, Apricot provides you with a number of tools and features to do so, including setting up a secure web form or intake form and using the guest login or portal features of Apricot Connect to directly enter data into Apricot as it’s collected.
If those collection tools aren’t the right fit, you can also use Apricot’s import tool to upload data collected in a 3rd party system in batches.
Second, on what frequency will assessments be collected?
Generally in assessments we ask the same questions at different intervals so we can compare results.
But sometimes, we want to compare scores from assessments taken at specific times in the relationship with a participant and, possibly, exclude others, say if they were collected at the wrong time or for an interval that is irrelevant for a particular outcome. Be sure each assessment is coded with a date or interval, so that you can report on the assessment results you care about and exclude the ones you don’t.
Third, how will you be scoring your assessments?
Apricot has several tools for converting qualitative measures and converting them into quantitative results for scoring, allowing you to set up a system that scores your assessments for you.
We recommend using masked option fields (like drop-downs, radio buttons, and likert scales) for your assessment questions to set backend scores while showing a front end text value to the data entry user.
These fields can then be pulled into calculations to generate subtotal or total assessment scores, either with calculation fields on the form or with special calculation columns in a report.
Finally, you want to be sure you pick a form structure that meets your reporting requirements.
There are 4 main ways you can design your forms to track assessment data in Apricot.
- Pre/post assessment on a single Tier 2 record
- Assessment on an activity record
- Individual assessment Tier 2, linked to Enrollment
- Individual assessment Tier 1, linked to Client
Let’s dive into these 1 at a time.
1. Pre and post on same form
- One form, one record that is updated at pre & post assessment intervals (generally different dates)
- Supports easy comparison of pre and post status using calculations
- Can be implemented with a new section on the enrollment, or as a separate form.
- Collect data at existing client touchpoints: intake & exit
- Easily report on change from intake to close
- East to chart client progress (2 data points to compare)
2. Assessment as supplement to activity
- One form, multiple records – one for each activity assessment
- Supports assessment of participants over time as activities are completed
- Can be implemented with a new section or as a wizard-linked form
- Collect data at existing client touchpoints
- Chart client progress over multiple dates
- Report on assessment data by date, interval, or other differentiator
3. Single assessment on Tier 2
- One form, multiple records — one for each assessment
- Commonly linked back to the enrollment
- Supports tracking assessments at ad-hoc and/or pre-defined intervals (30, 60, 90 days)
- Collect at any frequency, unrelated to other touchpoints
- Chart client progress over multiple dates
- Report on data by date, interval, or other
- Infinitely scalable
4. Single assessment on Tier 1 linked to Tier 1 Client
- One form, multiple records – one for each assessment
- Supports use as Secure Web Form for online distribution and completion by participant
- Commonly linked back to Tier 1 Participant Profile
- Streamline collection by sharing directly with end user
- Easily report on data by date or other differentiator
CAUTION: Requires data quality management.
3 ways to analyze data with Standard Reports
- Client progress over time
- Aggregate client outcomes
- Change between assessments using limits & aliases
Charting client progress (per client)
- Visualize change over time for a single client
- Compatible with pre/post & individual assessment form models
- Streamline access to client data and progress
Aggregate client outcomes
- Track program impact via aggregate analytics
- Chart average results at key intervals
- Measure progress toward benchmarks
Change between assessments
- Calculate improvement over time via change in score
- Summarize key metrics in an easy to review report section
As we wrap up, let’s look at some additional features you may want to consider when you look at tracking assessments in your system.
Take your assessment form and report design to the next level with these other Apricot features…
- Outcomes reporting feature
- Dynamic fields (Apricot 360 only)
- Custom report expressions (Apricot 360 only)
Available with all Apricot licenses, enabling outcomes in a report section allows you to set a benchmark and see if a row count, group count, or summary total matches. The outcomes tool can add met/unmet status and a progress bar to your report for easier analysis of goal achievement.
Dynamic fields and queries are available with Apricot 360 licenses. This feature can take your assessments to the next level by allowing a data entry user to reference data from other records upon data entry.
Our favorite application of this tool for assessments is to pull in a client’s status at a prior assessment into the current assessment record. This makes reporting on change in status over time simpler and gives end users better access to assessment data.
Custom report expressions is a feature available with Apricot 360 licenses that can help users create reports that not only displays record data, but converts it into formats that are easier to interpret and use.
Our favorite applications for this tool include:
- Turn qualitative data into quantitative scores (say, instead of using masked option fields)
- Prompt action with links to a record or folder (say to prompt the entry of a new assessment record when reviewing a report of clients and their most recent assessment)
- Count records by custom rules or multiple criteria in a single section
As we wrap up, there are a few things we hope you’ll take with you when implementing assessments in your own system.
- As you can see, there are many ways to design Apricot to collect and report on assessments. It’s important to consider your reporting and user experience requirements before building forms.
- Apricot offers versatile scoring features on forms and in reports to support measurable data collecting and reporting.
- Finally, Apricot reports are powerful.. exporting to Excel shouldn’t be necessary to report on your metrics, given the reporting tools available in Apricot, as long as your form design is correct.
With that, we’ve come to the end of our video. To learn more about Apricot, you can explore our Youtube channel or visit our website. Also, if you like our approach to Apricot and would like to work with us, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our door is always open. Thank you.
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