When it comes to student information systems (SIS), the focus is often on major features such as offering courses, scheduling, attendance, and grading. However, in a recent Blackbaud K–12 User Conference session, Tracy Dodge, the director of student information and registrar at Washington International School, shared the following advice for maximizing efficiency in an SIS such as Blackbaud Student Information SystemTM.
1. Take advantage of Official Notes.
Before utilizing the Official Notes feature, Washington International School had a multi-step process that involved too much copying and pasting into various documents and emails. By putting in a little legwork into the SIS setup regarding governance around note types, approval requirements, and recipients, as well as customizing the automatic notification templates, the school’s Official Notes process now functions like clockwork.
All notes now automatically save into the student’s cumulative record, so nothing gets lost in the shuffle, and the process has been so easy for Washington International School teachers that they’re adding more notes, vastly improving communication with parents regarding academic progress and concerns.
2. Utilize Conduct/Infractions to its fullest.
Similar to Official Notes, the school previously had a manual process to crack-down on excessive tardiness that involved running lists and personally emailing parents. By activating the automatic unexcused tardy notifications in Blackbaud’s SIS, students and parents are alerted to the repercussions without any admin involvement. The improved transparency has also saved an enormous amount of time explaining the infractions to students and parents.
Likewise, the ability to customize the notifications system to meet the school’s objectives has also helped with absence reporting. Washington International School now has an internal notification system in place that enables the school to track issues, support students, and comply with state reporting regulations.
Conduct/Infractions has also transformed the school’s process for tracking policy violations and behavioral issues. Gone are the days of anecdotal reporting in Google Sheets, which frustrated teachers. In her presentation, Dodge quoted Eric Beck, the dean of middle school students as saying, “This accurate documentation has been a huge shift for us. Now we are getting it right.”
3. Consolidate and automate processes with Learning Profiles.
Utilizing the Learning Profiles feature in the SIS has enabled Washington International School to consolidate its three divisions into a single procedure for testing summaries and accommodations. The single, easy-to-complete learning profile form customized to the school’s specifications has aided learning specialists and teachers alike by improving communication and progress tracking while also securing the information to those who should have access.
In addition to the time-saving efficiency Washington International School has gained by focusing on these three features, they have also maximized their SIS investment by consolidating and protecting student data, streamlining communication, and improving the overall experience of students, parents, teachers, and administrators.
Is your school maximizing SIS efficiency? If your school’s student information system doesn’t provide the level of time-saving efficiency that has benefited Washington International School, it’s time for a digital transformation with Blackbaud Student Information System. Download the document to learn more.