Web-Based Student Information System Simplifies Records Management
The Web-based nature of the PowerSchool student information system has helped improve student records management for many schools. PowerSchool CEO Greg Porter explains, PowerSchool is designed to lessen the hardware and maintenance costs associated with other products by allowing districts to run the entire system for all of their schools on a single server. Fewer servers means less up-front investment in hardware cost and less ongoing maintenance for that hardware. A recently announced remote hosting option also provides schools with an option to run the system on a subscription basis without having to host or maintain it. Porter adds, It will be up to the school to choose whether to run the system on their server or on ours.
A Tool for Administrators and Teachers
Dr. John Purvis, Assistant Superintendent at the Clay Center School District in Kansas, explains how PowerSchools Web-based architecture and browser interface address his districts needs. Because my district covers 800 square miles, I love the idea of being able to sit at my desk and have easy access to all the schools records within seconds. Administrators no longer need to run from classroom to classroom or search from file to file to get the information they need, as the system provides instant access to all student records with a simple point and click.
The system d'esnt incur extra costs every time a new module needs to be added, comments Tom Biedshied, the district IT coordinator for the Sweetwater School District in Wyoming. Because PowerSchool is Web-based, it integrates the functionality that other student information systems offer as additional add-ons. Plus, because it is accessed through a browser, everyone already knows how to use it. Training can be completed in a fraction of the time required to learn other systems.
Teachers also benefit by using PowerSchool. They have their class rolls waiting for them on the system at the beginning of the term. These can then be accessed from their classroom or from home. Attendance, grades, and assignment due dates can be instantly recorded. This information is communicated to a server where administrators can access whatever information they need. Teachers no longer have to fill out additional paperwork or duplicate their efforts. Access to any student information they need is at their fingertips.
Steve Bacharach, a teacher at a private K-12 school in Northern California, notes that the system has dramatically reduced the amount of paperwork he needs to do. I used to have to worry about filling out scan forms and taking them to the office, Bacharach says. The PowerSchool attendance screen facilitates quick and easy recording and allows me to move on to instructional activities. Attendance information is then instantly available to administrative personnel.
Jane Erickson, a computer teacher in Rock Springs, Wyoming, comments further on how the browser interface made the system easy to learn. It took three hours of training and I was able to use it. The information it holds is also instantly accessible when teachers need it. A few weeks ago, I realized that I had seven students who were failing my class, Erickson continues. I contacted the parents and had them pull up PowerSchool online while I was on the phone with them. I was then able to show them exactly why their child was doing poorly and what assignments were missing. It was a great visual aid in explaining to the parents what needed to be done.
Enhancing the Parent Connection
Parents are able to access real-time information about their student through a confidential login on the Web or by phone. They receive information about grades, attendance, homework and much more. Teachers only need to record the information once. Andy Gibson, Vice Principal and teacher in Northern California, says, When parents come to meet with me, they are usually aware of the students progress because of the Internet access. Thanks to this, we can discuss solutions instead of making announcements.
PowerSchool has incorporated resources and features designed to help build an online community around the school. Their Web portal provides links to some of the best education and information sites on the Internet. Students can search the Web by subject when they research papers and prepare for tests. Parents can find teaching aides, parent guides, links to parent organizations, and general parenting tips. Educators can browse online lesson plans and other resources. A recently launched online school fundraiser allows parents and educators who shop online to have a portion of their purchases given to the school of their choice. E-mail and other features designed to further enhance this community will be added by this summer.
This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2000 issue of THE Journal.