Individualizing learning, increasing engagement, and preparing students for a technology-rich future are just a few areas districts are looking to improve as the education landscape becomes more dynamic. For Burleson Independent School District, located 15 miles south of Fort Worth, Texas, a 1:1 technology initiative was the key idea behind achieving those goals. However, with 17 schools spanning 55 square miles and serving nearly 12,000 students, rolling out a 1:1 technology program was a challenging endeavor.
To ensure a smooth transition, Burleson thought outside the box by putting an existing resource to new use. Skyward, the district’s student information system and enterprise resource planning solution for over 13 years, provided all the necessary features to assist Burleson’s rollout. “A lot of districts are trying to take advantage of 1:1 technology programs but don’t have the proper resources to roll them out,” explained Suzy Adams, director of data services. “With the help of Skyward, my little department of five people can have a profound impact on these programs.”
Knowing Skyward’s capabilities helped Burleson’s data services department think systematically and allowed the district to adjust to new technology needs in creative ways. By using solutions such as Online Enrollment to register students for Chromebooks or custom forms to identify which families needed access to the Internet, Burleson enjoyed a smooth 1:1 rollout. “I use Skyward all day, every day, to free up more time for our staff on the front lines so they can focus on students,” said Adams.
"THANKFULLY, SKYWARD IS A ROBUST SYSTEM THAT CONTINUES TO REACH NEW HEIGHTS. THEY PUT THEIR MONEY WHERE THEIR MOUTH IS."
The first year of Burleson’s 1:1 technology program started with a grant and pilot program at two elementary schools. One goal of the pilot program was to provide Internet access for students who didn’t have service, but the district had no existing method for how to identify which children needed it. Fortunately, Burleson already used Skyward for online registration, where they created a questionnaire about home Internet access.
“We were able to pull data to identify which students needed a mobile hotspot,” said Adams. “As a result, our staff was able to easily roll out Chromebooks on campuses.”
More recently, Burleson expanded its rollout to third- through eighth-grade students, a large undertaking requiring the distribution of about 6,000 Chromebooks over a six-week period. To tackle the challenge, Burleson paired Skyward’s custom forms with Family Access to track the sizable number of students requiring Chromebooks. The district used Skyward to notify parents to fill out the form for their student to receive a Chromebook. “Prior to the morning of distributing Chromebooks, we pulled a report of all the parents who hadn’t signed off for their students,” explained Adams. “We simply called the parents and they signed off. Then, students could immediately receive their Chromebooks because the forms were signed electronically in Family Access.”
Students were asked to pay a nominal service fee for their Chromebook, which Burleson assigned using Skyward’s Fee Management solution. Knowing that all students would benefit from 1:1 technology regardless of financial status, the district used Skyward to analyze which students were eligible for free or reduced lunches. From there, Burleson created a discount for each eligible family based on their lunch status. Additionally, the district capped each family so households with multiple children paid no more than a certain amount.
“The fee capping and discounting features in Fee Management allowed us to customize for individual families,” explained Adams. “I don’t think we could have done that if those Skyward features weren’t available.”
Using Skyward as the primary data source for all students was especially useful for Burleson. By collaborating with third-party vendors, all data being populated was automated through Skyward directly or from a data export. Specifically, Burleson used Skyward’s interoperability to simplify laptop payments. “Because of Skyward’s partnership with RevTrak, parents went online and paid fees efficiently and in a timely manner,” stated Adams.
Fast-forward to the upcoming school year when Burleson will expand its 1:1 technology service to high school students. With larger numbers than past years, the district intends to use Skyward to distribute the Chromebooks more strategically. “Skyward allows us to develop plans to meet the needs for each specific campus,” stated Adams. “If one high school says they want to distribute Chromebooks in their social studies classes, then we can run rosters, assign fees, and organize those Chromebooks.”
As Burleson’s 1:1 technology successes accumulated, the district has become even more proactive. Recently, Burleson has added related forms to the district’s online registration, which has expanded its data capabilities, improved efficiency, and made the process more convenient for parents. “Building custom forms would be useless to us if we couldn’t data mine them,” explained Adams. “Thankfully, Skyward is a robust system that continues to reach new heights. They put their money where their mouth is.”
"IT MAKES ME FEEL GOOD TO ASSIST WITH THE PROCESS AND BE A BIG PART OF THE INITIATIVE."
While the success of a 1:1 technology initiative isn’t usually attributed to data services and student information systems, their indirect impact makes all the difference to ensure a smooth transition for staff, students, and families. “It made me feel good to assist with the process and be a big part of the initiative even though I wasn’t uploading the software or handing out laptops,” said Adams. “Every day my staff impacts education behind the scenes, which makes us feel really good about what we do and the impact we make.”
Looking to the future, Adams expects to enjoy the same quality partnership between Burleson and Skyward, with one improvement. “We’ve been ready to move to Qmlativ since we viewed the demo. We believe that move will help the district become even more effective,” explained Adams.
With a 1:1 program already in place and Skyward’s Qmlativ Education Management System coming soon, Burleson’s possibilities are endless. Almost every family will have access to a computer and an advanced SIS and ERP system, making it easier to create a more productive, collaborative, and successful learning environment.
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