3 Tips for Creating an LMS/SIS Policies and Procedures Guide

From registrars to department heads and teachers, there’s no shortage of people editing data in your school’s learning management and student information systems. That’s why schools should maintain and enforce an LMS/SIS policies and procedures guide to preserve data quality. These tips will help your school keep everyone on the same page.

1. Create a project plan.

Start by organizing a team of cohesive decision-makers that will shape the policies and procedures guide, and make it clear who gets the final vote in a split decision. Begin project planning by outlining the basics of the guide’s format and location (wiki, Google Doc, .pdf, etc.). Then decide upon document control measures—how often will the policies get reviewed, what is the approval process on edits, who has access to make changes, and how will updates get communicated?   

Project planning should include rollout and training. When will the guide go into effect, and how strong is the mandate? For example, will adherence to the guide be part of performance reviews? Also, how will new employees get brought up to speed on the guide?

Once an agreed-upon project plan is established, your team can begin creating the guide.

2. Start with what you know.

Finding a starting point for the policies and procedures guide may seem daunting. To make it manageable, start small with the information you already have available to you. For example, the school calendar can help prioritize topics such as grading or scheduling, depending on what’s coming up next in the school year. The school’s student and faculty handbooks are other resources that can help outline the items to include in the guide.

3. Identify, brainstorm, and document.

Establish regular meetings with the project committee to brainstorm the policies and procedures to document for the identified topics. It’s also essential for committee members to keep an open dialog with their departments to continually solicit feedback. Examples of items to decide upon include:


Academics Setup

  • Course title structure (Honors English vs. English – Honors)
  • Course code structure (9201 vs. 09201)
  • Section identifier naming (1, 2, 3; A, B, C; teacher’s last name)
  • Are courses organized by department, grade, or both?
  • Is a description required for all courses?
  • Which courses get published to the public website?
  • Should attendance get turned on for all courses?
  • Are there any course fields that should only be viewed by admins?


Other LMS Groups

  • How will each group type be used? (Activity, Advisory, Athletics, Community, Dorm)
  • Who owns the various content elements of each group type? For example, in Athletics, are coaches responsible for entering game results?
  • Is data manually entered or imported?
  • How often will old data get removed?
  • Are advisors, activity leaders, coaches, or dorm parents required to use the LMS group pages?
  • Does group content roll up to places such as the Activity Stream and Resource Boards?


Assignments and Grade Book

  • What are the default assignment types? How can teachers request new assignment types?
  • Are grade book details ever published to students, parents, or advisors?
  • Are grade book calculations standardized by department or division? Or can each teacher enter their own calculation?
  • How many grade book marking periods should each term include?
  • Are teachers required to use the grade book?


Grading

  • How long will teachers have to enter grades before and after the term/marking period ends?
  • Are grades reviewed before they are published? If so, by whom, and how long will they have to review the grades?
  • When are report cards released? Are they published online or mailed?
  • When is academic performance generated? What are the requirements for making each level?
  • What are the naming conventions for grades, grade plans, report cards, etc.?


Schedule/Course Requests

  • When do students begin requesting courses?
  • Who requests the courses—the student, parent, advisor, or manager?
  • What is the approval process? What’s the timeline? Who is on the approval committee?
  • When will scheduling courses begin?
  • When will scheduling students begin?
  • Who is responsible for updating the school schedule throughout the year?
  • Will schedule days get bumped or skipped due to unexpected cancellations?


Learning Profiles

  • Who is responsible for updating the learning profile templates?
  • Who is responsible for updating learning profiles? Are they updated as needed, or annually?
  • Do teachers, parents, or advisors have access to view learning profiles online?


Conduct/Official Notes

  • How will the conduct feature get used? What constitutes an infraction? Who will receive notifications?
  • How are official notes used? When and why should official notes get written?
  • Where are teacher instructions for using conduct and official notes stored? How often are they updated?

Is your school’s academic data dependable? Download the document above to learn how Blackbaud Student Information SystemTM manages student records alongside academic course information in Blackbaud Learning Management SystemTM for seamless data flow and unparalleled administrator insight.

About the Author

Jacqui Wishart

With a decade of experience working at Blackbaud K–12, we conservatively estimate that Jacqui has assisted over a 1,000 schools. Currently serving as a principal business analyst, she is passionate about helping schools streamline their processes with Blackbaud's education management portfolio. A New Hampshire native, Jacqui now resides in South Carolina with her two dachshunds, Fennel and Sage.

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