With a heightened focus on accountability spurring the use of data to track student progress, a robust student information system (SIS) has become a critical component of today’s school systems. And companies are striving to meet this need by developing ever more dynamic software.

Among the latest trends in SIS technology are all-encompassing systems that combine student data with analytics tools and enterprise resource planning (ERP) features, and solutions that enhance mobility by allowing school leaders and other stakeholders to access information from either a desktop computer or a handheld device.

Jim Hirsch, associate superintendent for technology at the Plano Independent School District in Texas, says he sees SIS products heading toward complete ERP environments that combine all areas of school leadership into one fully integrated solution.

Plano has been working with Austin, Texas-based Prologic Technology Systems Inc. “to help develop the future of SIS,” Hirsch says. Prologic’s TEAMS Student Management solution uses a single, web-based software infrastructure to tie student information to a school’s resource needs.

Hirsch says this program is perfect for his district, because it was “developed with the administrators, teachers, staff, parents, and students in mind, with a simple web interface that includes essential functions and information relevant to their needs and interests.”

The system integrates student, human resources, and financial information under one ERP platform. Using TEAMS, parents are able to view their children’s grades and attendance information online, and school leaders can allocate resources to specific campus needs through a single database.

Another attractive feature is that it’s based on an open-source development platform, Hirsch says, meaning it’s available to the general public with relaxed intellectual property restrictions. This allows users to create additional features through incremental development or collaboration. Hirsch has taken advantage of this ability by embedding Web 2.0 features such as blogs and wikis within the software’s environment.

Another example of a system that combines SIS and ERP functions within a single solution is the School Management System from Skyward Inc.

Scott Glinski, vice president of sales and marketing for Skyward, says the School Management System “allows districts to run all of their financial management, human resources, student management, food service, and special-education administrative tasks from a single database.”