Implementing new technology is enticing for many school districts. But before any new technology can be considered, district leaders must clearly identify how it will be used. Travis McGuire, superintendent at Hinckley-Big Rock Community Unit School District #429 (HBR 429), says the purpose of technology is to be a tool in the learning process. More importantly, a tool which is “driven by the curriculum; enhances student learning; engages students; and improves communication, feedback, or collaboration among all stakeholders.”
HBR 429’s previous student information system didn’t meet that definition, which led the district to search for a new SIS. “We were having trouble with many of our daily functions, which were pretty standard needs for any school district, such as delayed student transcripts,” explained McGuire.
Thanks to HBR 429’s
partnership with Skyward and
their use of the School Business Suite since 2013, McGuire’s team knew just where to start in their search for a more future-ready SIS. “We were very happy with our experiences on the financial side and were confident that a newer technology like Skyward’s Qmlativ® platform would alleviate some of the pains we had with our previous SIS,” explained McGuire.
After initial outreach, HBR 429 set up a meeting to preview Qmlativ. With teaching staff, secretaries, and administrators on hand, faculty were quickly on board. By the 2017-2018 school year, the district implemented the Qmlativ Student Management Suite. In doing so, HBR 429 has improved three overarching areas throughout the district: college and career readiness, communication, and support for all stakeholders.
"OUR STAFF FEELS MORE EFFICIENT NOW THAT QMLATIV GIVES THEM THE ABILITY TO PERSONALIZE THEIR TILES AND DASHBOARDS."
College & Career Readiness
One of the first goals McGuire tackled as the superintendent at HBR 429 was career readiness. The district started by identifying and defining what it meant to be career ready. McGuire wanted stakeholders to understand what the phrase meant and how HBR 429 could prepare students to fit the criteria. Career-ready graduates at HBR 429 have the skills and motivation to pursue a self-directed goal, adapt to challenges along the way, and know the options to obtain their post-secondary career.
An important part of being career ready is having proof, in the form of a transcript, that shows students are ready to pursue their self-directed goals. Unfortunately, HBR 429’s previous SIS didn’t provide families and students with accurate, ready-to-use transcripts in a timely manner. “We seemed to have an issue with our transcripts every year. Those are such an important part of our students moving on, not only for admissions but also for scholarships and we needed those in a timely manner,” explained McGuire.
Since HBR 429’s transition to Qmlativ, transcripts are readily available in the Family Access portal. Students are reaping many benefits beyond just the transcripts. HBR 429 is using Qmlativ to add transparency to the grading process. “Not only am I a superintendent, but I am also a parent in the district,” explained McGuire. “That’s why I’m happy we’ve communicated how to set up cues for low grades or low test scores in Qmlativ.”
Likewise, Qmlativ gives HBR 429 students real-time access to their grades on any device so they can track their progress or communicate with teachers.
That type of access will benefit students moving forward, giving them an opportunity to adapt to challenges along the way and use their information for long-term success.
Beyond transcripts and student progress information, Qmlativ is also helping HBR 429 accomplish a more widespread goal. That goal is to improve communication within the district and throughout the entire community. While the district’s previous system had a parent portal, it didn’t have a messaging feature. Even worse, many parents and students found the portal lacked functionality and wasn’t user-friendly.
With Qmlativ, all key stakeholders are more engaged. Students and parents now have access to the solution’s message center, where they can communicate with teachers on recent academic progress and actionable goals. “Our parents and students are better informed and more efficient with Qmlativ,” stated McGuire. “Garnering the latest communication technology has been a great advantage to our district.”
In a broader aspect, HBR 429 highlights its new SIS by informing and educating students and parents on the communication capabilities of Qmlativ. “In the short amount of time we’ve been using Qmlativ, we’ve pushed out all kinds of information to our parents,” said McGuire. “Soon, we will be pushing out information about online registration and how we will be using Skyward for that.”
Internally, HBR 429’s staff enjoys a different side of communication: the ease of sharing and viewing information. “Our staff feels more efficient now that Qmlativ gives them the ability to personalize their tiles and dashboards,” explained McGuire. “They see the information they need, access it quickly, and work confidently knowing that what they see is real-time data.”
"IT MAKES OUR DISTRICT BETTER AND IMPROVES OUR STUDENTS' LEARNING PROCESS. IT'S THAT SIMPLE."
Support for All Stakeholders
While Qmlativ’s features and functionality are providing added benefits to the district, McGuire believes the level of support the district has received, both within Qmlativ and outside of it, is invaluable.
“We’ve experienced outstanding customer service and support. It doesn’t matter how good your product is if you don’t have someone or something to help you when you need it most.”
A key part of that support has been Skyward’s Professional Development Center (PDC). While McGuire notes that Qmlativ’s user-friendly interface and intuitive design made their transition easier, having the PDC provided additional benefits. “The PDC format worked well for us,” said McGuire. “It’s such an advantage to try things without any fear of messing up which added to our staff’s level of confidence.”
Moving forward, HBR 429 will also have access to Qmlativ’s Help Center, a self-service support portal. At any time, staff will be able to instantly view relevant content based on their roles and the questions they have. With everything from documentation on a given topic to a video library and flowcharts, HBR 429’s staff will be equipped with the tools and resources they need to work smarter.
So, what’s the next step for HBR 429? According to their superintendent, the district will consider making the same improvements to their financial operations. “The next thing we need to contemplate is when to switch to the Qmlativ School Business Suite so our data is all in one database,” said McGuire.
Building a more successful learning environment doesn’t have to be complicated. If you give stakeholders the resources and support they need to become more efficient and collaborative, success will cultivate itself. “Making the move to Qmlativ just makes sense,” explained McGuire. “It makes our district better and improves our students’ learning process. It’s that simple.”
Follow-up resource: Student Management Suite
Want to take a closer look at the SIS people are calling "the future of student information systems"? Check out the Qmlativ Student Management Suite.