With the help of Skyward’s Student Management Suite, two Florida school districts have transformed their processes to become more efficient and improve communication.
Reporting is a Breeze in Seminole County
Florida’s Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS) had used the same student system for over a decade. When Tim Harper, the district’s chief information officer (CIO), learned that the system had reached the end of its life, he was understandably concerned. Harper realized he faced a tall task in finding a system that would be easy to learn, could manage the district’s more than 64,000 students, and would be efficient when it came to state reporting.
SCPS chose implement the Skyward Student Management Suite, a decision they made based on the solution’s real-time monitoring capabilities and the improved home-school communication it offered.
Helpful and timely information
It didn’t take long after implementation before the district was impressed by Skyward’s state reporting. SCPS appreciated the way Skyward is constantly monitoring state requirements and notifies staff of changes in a timely manger.
Harper noted that state reporting assistance is especially helpful for SCPS and other districts that call Florida home. “I think most people in other states would agree that we have the most complete state reporting system,” he said. “We send data all 12 months of the year. [When a change occurs,] Skyward gets back to us in a very reasonable amount of time with solutions and a realistic timeline for implementing the necessary changes.”
Skyward’s Student Management Suite
Skyward provides a collaborative partnership, increased efficiency, and improved communication.
"It’s about teamwork, which is how it should be between the vendor and client. We didn’t get there with our former vendor, but in less than two years we are there with Skyward."
SCPS benefits from both the student information system itself and the service that Skyward provides. Harper said his staff “absolutely loves the product.” He is pleased with what he refers to as Skyward’s key strengths: personal attention, a collaborative partnership, and a streamlined process.
Implementing Skyward has allowed SCPS to become a more efficient district. The eight-person team devoted to reporting has been cut nearly in half. Three programmers who used to build workarounds for the previous vendor’s inadequate fixes are no longer needed. Today these repurposed staff members focus their efforts on other areas, such as web development.
A lasting partnership
SCPS and Skyward are working together to provide the most effective, efficient solution. “We’re pretty good about monitoring the state’s changes together,” said Harper. “It’s about teamwork, which is how it should be between the vendor and client. We didn’t get there with our former vendor, but in less than two years we are there with Skyward.”
"[When a state reporting change occurs,] Skyward gets back to us in a very reasonable amount of time with solutions and a realistic timeline for implementing the necessary changes."
Dixie School District Automates Processes and Improves Communications
Around the same time SCPS began implementing the Skyward Student Management Suite, 170 miles away on the state’s gulf side, a 2,000-student district began its search for a new student management system. Dixie School District in Cross City, Florida was still on a mainframe. Karen E. Sapp, the district’s management information specialist, knew it was time to develop a Web presence. Her goal was to pull the various programs the district used into one cohesive package.
Dixie chose to implement the Skyward solution and went live on the Web in 2010. Each year, the district added additional applications to the system. In 2012, for example, they added Response to Intervention (RtI), a feature the district’s elementary school teachers and guidance counselors have benefited from.
“Everyone loves being able to look at grades, discipline, and attendance in one place,” Sapp said. “Before implementing Skyward RtI, teachers created Excel spreadsheets and printed out mailing labels for the letters that were sent home to every student who had to be tested. Now, Skyward generates forms to email. If there’s no response, they send a letter. Best of all, teams of teachers have access to all of the data so they can figure out what each student needs.”
"Everyone loves being able to look at grades, discipline, and attendance in one place."
Dixie is pleased with the number of Skyward applications that help staff members complete student-related processes more efficiently. Take Skyward Food Service, for instance. It’s another newer application for Dixie that allows parents to check balances and pay for meals online through the parent portal. It integrates seamlessly with other Skyward applications so administrators can easily handle payment processing and reporting.
The Skyward Gradebook is a feature the district’s teachers have enjoyed. It provides a centralized location to record all of their grades for automatic posting. Teachers also use it to track benchmarks, goals, assessments, and resources without having to sign in to multiple systems. The same Gradebook even allows them to create online tests from a test bank.
District staff members aren’t the only happy Skyward users. Dixie’s parents have enjoyed being able to log in to Skyward Family Access to check their children’s grades, assignments, standardized testing information, and discipline.
"Best of all, teams of teachers have access to all of the data so they can figure out what each student needs."
Perhaps the biggest way Skyward has impacted Dixie School District is by improving communication. Teachers can collaborate on student progress. Parents can find everything from test scores to missing assignments through Family Access. Guidance counselors can send emails to parents of students who are skipping classes or doing poorly. During high-stakes testing, they can also use the system to call parents to ensure their students are in school. “We’ve had lots of success with that calling program,” Sapp said. “In the past, letters would go home after 15 days, and that was too late.”
A lasting partnership
According to Sapp, Family Access is just one more example of the innovative, industry-leading services Skyward provides. She is looking forward to a continued partnership that will help deliver a high quality education for the students of Dixie School District.
Follow-Up Resource: Student Management Suite
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