Student Data | News
Rhode Island Schools Tap Federal Funds To Take Student Information System Online
K-12 districts in Rhode Island are moving to a Web-based system for tracking student data using funds from a federal competitive grant program. Last summer, Rhode Island won $75 million in federal grant money for its innovations in education as part of the United States Department of Education's "Race to the Top" fund. Since that time, seven of the state's districts have tapped those funds to adopt Follett's Web-based Aspen Student Information System (SIS).
Aspen is offered exclusively as software-as-a-service (SaaS), with all data stored at a secure, redundant, central location. The comprehensive SIS offers modules for virtually every type of school-, staff-, and student-related data, including: student and staff records; demographics; scheduling; attendance; discipline; gradebook; special education, including IEP's (individualized education programs); health information; and personnel/professional development. Additionally, there are modules for easy, intuitive development of parent and student portals, and community and learning pages for districts, schools, classes, teachers, and students. And the software offers detailed reporting, including state-mandated reports.
Last week, three RI districts selected Aspen as their SIS, bringing the total in the state to seven, encompassing 64 K-12 schools enrolling more than 30,000 students:
- Warwick Public Schools--26 schools, 10,600 students;
- Coventry Public Schools--10 schools, 5,041 students; and
- Portsmouth School Department--six schools, 2,958 students.
- West Warwick Public Schools--six schools, 3,509 students
- Little Compton Schools--one school, 312 students
- Barrington Public Schools--six schools, 3,426 students
- Cumberland School Department--nine schools, 4,946 students
On the heels of the rapid growth of the software's use in the state, in January school administrators formed the Rhode Island Aspen User Group, headed by Rose Muller, director of technology for the Portsmouth School District.
"Most, if not all, of our decisions that we make are based on data analysis," said Muller, "and Aspen will provide us with the capability to organize our operations so that data can be obtained, related and examined at every level. We are excited to explore the features in Aspen that support electronic workflow and will help our users."
Muller referred to the strategic plan initiatives set forth by the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that put data at the center of all decision-making and progress measurement. "Many realize we are in need of a robust system that meets local and state requirements, and some districts have chosen Aspen to meet those needs," she explained. "The Aspen User Group will provide us with the forum to share ideas and practices, and help us to work Smarter, not harder."
Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.