This article will discuss some of the common assumptions and best practices of importing data into the SchoolAdmin system. Click here to learn how to use the Import Data Tool.


How-To: Understand Import Standards & Best Practices

Each column header in a SchoolAdmin import file is composed of two parts: (1) an entity and (2) a field. The two parts are listed in the column headers with a period separating them; for example, CHILD.first_name or HOUSEHOLD1.external_id. Read the sections below for an explanation of both of these parts.


The following are the only valid entity types within SchoolAdmin:

  • CHILD - The student who is being imported. All other records will be linked to this primary entity. Each row MUST have a child entity.

  • PARENT1 - The primary parent in Household1.

  • PARENT2 - The secondary parent in Household1

  • PARENT3 - The primary parent in Household2

  • PARENT4 - The secondary parent in Household2

  • HOUSEHOLD1 - The primary address at which the student resides

  • HOUSEHOLD2 - The secondary address at which the student resides

Important Note: PARENT1 and PARENT2 will always be listed as residing in HOUSEHOLD1. PARENT3 and PARENT4 will always be listed as residing in HOUSEHOLD2.

These entities are often referred to as three subsets - CHILD, PARENT, and HOUSEHOLD - to indicate all entities sharing that designation.


Fields are the individual containers into which data is imported. Fields are always imported onto a specific entity. For example, when using a column header of CHILD.previous_school, we are importing data into the field previous_school for the child (student) entity.

On an import file, always use the canonical name of any field. Canonical names are always lowercase and separated by underscores instead of spaces. To find the canonical name for a specific field, navigate to Settings -> Fields and Data -> Fields and locate the field in the list. The canonical name will be listed in the second column on the page. Alternatively, adding the field as a column on a search and then choosing the 'Export as import template' option export the correct header.

HOUSEHOLD entities only have seven fields that can be imported into: external_id, address_1, address_2, city, state, zip, country.

To successfully create a new CHILD or PARENT entity, the following three fields are required:

  • external_id - The External ID should be a unique identifier, preferably an ID from another system (such as your SIS) that identifies this student or parent. It MUST be completely unique per contact - family-based IDs cannot be used.

  • first_name - The first name of the contact.

  • last_name - The last name of the contact.

In order to create a PARENT entity, you will also need a CHILD entity to link them to, and you should also include a parent relationship (e.g. PARENT1.relationship) to define the relationship between the parent and student. For example, mother, father, or guardian.

To create a HOUSEHOLD entity, only the external_id must be set, but the address fields (address_1, city, state, country, and zip) are vital to this field and as much of this data as possible should be filled in when creating an import file.

When importing new data, the goal is often to create CHILD entities who are 'in workflow' (i.e. in a status like inquiry, applicant, enrolled, etc.). To do this, the following three fields must be set on the CHILD:

  • status: The name of the status of the student. This should always be lowercase and use underscores in place of spaces - for example, inquiry instead of Inquiry or parent_declined instead of Parent Declined.

  • grade: The abbreviated name of the grade for the student. Abbreviated grade names can be located under Settings -> General -> Grades. A number directly representing the grade can be used as well (e.g. 1 will be read as 1st).

  • workflow_year: The name of the term (school year) for which the student is in the status/grade. Terms must match the full name configured in your SchoolAdmin site under Settings -> General -> Terms.

Any other field may be imported into the appropriate entity by finding the correct field under Settings -> Fields & Data -> Fields and finding the 'canonical name' of the field. This name will always be lowercase and use underscores in place of spaces. To create the appropriate header, simply add a new column to the file with a header indicating the entity designation, a period, and the field name, e.g. CHILD.tshirt_size or PARENT1.marital_status.


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