The educators of Council Rock School District, Pa., understand that change is constant in education. As they evaluated options for student information and special education systems, they sought not only to select best-in-class software but also to partner with a company that would evolve its systems to meet their ever-changing needs.
Although the school district already used SunGard K-12 Education’s PerformancePLUS, Barry Desko, director of secondary education, says the selection committee was committed consider all options.
“We involved 50 to 100 members of our school community in the conversation. As we considered student information systems, we really spent a great deal of time researching our options. After we finished that, the consensus certainly landed us on eSchoolPLUS,” he explains. “And, when we considered special education systems, we did our research and landed on IEPPLUS. It just happened that in both cases the best-in-class system was also the integrated SunGard K-12 Education product.”
eSchoolPLUS is a recognized, industry-leading student information management system for K-12 schools. It has received Gartner’s highest possible rating, was named to District Administration’s Top 100 products list, and was a finalist in the CODiE Award Program. A cost-effective software solution, eSchoolPLUS helps educators manage day-to-day student administration, monitor student performance, and facilitate communications between district staff, parents, and students.
IEPPLUS allows district staff to efficiently manage the entire special education process—from referral, evaluation, and IEP development to maintaining historical information and ensuring compliance with IDEA regulations. Intuitive web-based forms increase the speed and ease of creating IEPs. The software solution alleviates administrative burdens and helps improve the accuracy of reporting with automated compliance validation and automated notifications to alert district staff of critical information or actions needed.
eSchoolPLUS, IEPPLUS, and PerformancePLUS are part of SunGard K-12’s PLUS 360 suite, which is a single integrated software solution for the management of student information, assessment and curriculum, special education, and financial and human resources. With PLUS 360, educators are able to access information they need to engage students, affect positive change, and improve student achievement.
Ric Cargas, the district’s database and information systems manager, says the integration of the PLUS 360 products boosts district efficiency and supports educators with on-the-spot decision making. “From the technology side, the integration is really helping us. Previously, we had to write that integration and provide that data,” he explains. “It wasn’t real time, so you were always a little bit behind. Now, eSchoolPLUS is the central point of input, and data flows out from there. That integration eliminates duplication of data entry. That’s a time saver, and it really increases the quality of our data.”
As demands on school districts continue to evolve, Cargas says partnering with a vendor that is in tune with changing regulatory requirements is invaluable. “What SunGard K-12 has done for state reporting is just phenomenal,” he says, noting the company has a well-deserved reputation for excellence. “That level of support really speaks to SunGard K-12’s dedication to its products. We can rest easier because we know that SunGard K-12 will make things happen.”
Tools for Supporting the Success of Every Student
Desko says the PLUS 360 solution has become integral to the district’s student achievement initiatives.
“The systems allow us to do much more data gathering and analysis. Our principals are doing grade analysis that never was a simple task for them before we moved to eSchoolPLUS. Now they can look at marking period reports and student or teacher grading analysis to get a sense of what’s going on,” he explains. “Our curriculum coordinators look at all of our common assessments and do task analysis to look at how well the assessments are measuring what we want them to measure and how well our students are performing. It’s given us a lot of options to better ensure that we are able to deliver on the mission that we are committed to.”
Over the years, Desko has appreciated how SunGard K-12 has evolved its systems to make them even easier to use. “For example, the new reporting engine in PerformancePLUS is intuitive,” says Desko. “Our folks are confident in the information they’re getting. And, the training that came along with the update was really helpful.”
For Charles Lambert, the district’s director of special services, IEPPLUS is key to the district’s success in its special education program. “IEPPLUS is critically essential to compliance,” says Lambert. “It gives us the mechanism by which we complete the paperwork and manage the state reporting that we are required to do.”
Like Desko, Lambert has seen SunGard K-12’s commitment to continuous improvement. “IEPPLUS’s new progress monitoring module is even more user friendly,” he says. “That progress monitoring component is critical for IEP development. So, I think making the new module easier for teachers has certainly helped in developing better IEPs.”
When Lambert has a question, he is confident he’ll get the help he needs. “SunGard K-12’s customer support is absolutely outstanding,” he says. “All of them are very responsive and thorough.”
Launching Initiatives with PLUS 360
Supported by best-in-class systems and excellent customer support, Council Rock is comfortable launching initiatives that support student achievement.
Currently, Desko says the district is re-writing its curriculum and moving it to SunGard K-12’s online curriculum management software. “CurriculumCONNECTOR gives us the confidence that everybody is accessing the same curriculum and offers ongoing opportunities to review and revise our curriculum. Being able to do that year-round and to have that K-12 look at our curriculum will be a real advantage to us,” he says. “Next year, all of our teachers will be accessing their curriculum maps through CurriculumCONNECTOR. Then, they’ll learn to build their own diary maps and lesson plans in the system. And, we’re hoping that this will open up a whole new era of sharing and collaboration online.”
In addition, the district is moving to an online report card.
“We will deliver report cards, except for the final report, through Home Access Center,” says Desko, noting that parents who do not have computer access can still request a paper copy. “In addition to printing cost, it’s going to save us turnaround time because our staff will not have to spend as long doing all the printing, sorting, coordination, and distribution. It was a two-week process for us—from the time the marking period ended until we delivered report cards. We should be able to cut that in half.”
With the complete PLUS 360 student solution, Council Rock is confident launching initiatives like these that empower all educational stakeholders to support student achievement.