Anyone who has the responsibility of meeting the special educational needs of children knows it takes a lot of work to complete the seemingly endless number of forms, reports, and state submissions. On top of all that, it’s crucial for the information to be accurate, up to date, and communicated properly.
After years of dealing with downloadable forms, completing paperwork by hand, and trying to pull data from multiple systems, leaders at Central Fulton School District in southern Pennsylvania decided it was time to look for a technology solution that would let them leave paper processes and complicated systems in the past.
The district adopted Skyward’s Student Management Suite and implemented the special education solution, an online portal where staff can track and manage information pertaining to IEPs, referral dates, team meetings, and more.
Over the last few years, Skyward’s special education application has helped Central Fulton improve its procedures, including additional areas of their data reporting. “We went from downloading and editing Word documents to having Skyward, which really managed everything for us,” explained Ginger Thompson, director of special education at Central Fulton School District.
"NOW, EVERYTHING IS DONE ELECTRONICALLY, AND WE CAN SEE WHEN A TEACHER REVIEWS AN IEP."
Ease of use for staff
Initial buy-in from key stakeholders is always a huge factor when switching to a new solution, and that was no different for Central Fulton School District. Ongoing discussions helped identify three main considerations for staff: ease of use, access to data, and integration with their current SIS.
“Skyward was the first system teachers were able to grasp, and it’s more user-friendly than what was used in the past,” explained Thompson. “Being able to access Skyward from home is also a very big benefit. Now they can just log in from any computer and work at their leisure since it’s web-based.”
In addition, teachers now receive IEPs and other student information confidentially and securely. Thanks to Skyward, all data is electronically stored in one location, making the process more seamless and user-friendly for teachers.
“Teachers can log in, view an IEP, check that they have seen it, and the system marks that it was reviewed,” explains Thompson. “Prior to Skyward, we were printing a copy of a student’s IEP for every teacher they would come in contact with during the course of the day. For us, that was a lot of work. Now, everything is done electronically, and we can see when a teacher reviews an IEP.”
Staff members now log in to one system to get all the data they need to complete critical forms and reports. “Prior to Skyward, we found ourselves going from one system to the next to gather different pieces of information for IEPs,” said Thompson. “Now, that information is located in one place, and has really streamlined the process for us.”
In addition, Central Fulton staff members love the state reports. With Skyward, they are better able to stay on top of the different mandates and reporting requirements since they no longer have difficulty obtaining the necessary data for the submission process.
“We appreciate that Skyward stays on top of the different mandates we have and the numerous reporting requirements that are coming to us. We’re really pleased with the support we get from Skyward,” said Thompson.
District staff used to spend hours upon hours cleaning up data in order to submit it to the state correctly. Now, that process time has been significantly decreased. “Being able to take the key information directly from Skyward and not have to format it in any particular way to get the data to the state has been a big help for us,” explained Thompson.
"THE FOLKS WE ARE WORKING WITH HAVE A REALLY GOOD GRASP OF WHAT PENNSYLVANIA SPECIAL EDUCATION IS ALL ABOUT."
The onsite and technical support the district has received over the years has made all the difference. It is a huge benefit to have a partner who has a good understanding of how special education works, particularly in your state.
“The onsite support we received was excellent. The folks we are working with have a really good grasp of what Pennsylvania special education is all about and really seem to understand what it is we are looking for when we have specific questions,” Thompson said.
Support doesn’t just mean troubleshooting – sometimes it means working together to build what’s needed. When the district has a problem or an enhancement they would like added within the solution, they reach out to Skyward.
“We feel that when our district has a suggestion for an improvement, we are taken very seriously,” said Thompson. “When we first started using Skyward, there wasn’t a way to monitor if teachers were reviewing IEPs, and the Skyward team worked through that process with us to create that feature, which is not only available to us but to other districts as well.”
Having used Skyward for several years, Central Fulton’s staff appreciates the value the special education application offers.
“I have recommended Skyward to a number of my colleagues,” explained Thompson. “We have had a number of districts reach out to see Skyward in person and have had conversations about the solution. I’m always recommending it to anyone who is asking.”
Can a district improve access to special education data and simplify reporting processes? Central Fulton School District seems to think so. Skyward Special Education has offered an easier way to prepare accurate reports while providing staff with a solution – and a partner – they can trust.
Follow-up resource: Student Management Suite
Ready to move beyond multiple systems for student information management? Check out the Student Management Suite.