New breed of student information systems is emerging

“Now, scheduling and the gradebook go hand-in-hand,” said District Programmer Paul Santoni. “The ability to schedule across school has allowed our teacher to utilize the gradebook functions properly.”

Aspen also offers special education/IEP management, health management, and professional development management as part of its student information system.

Follett Software has been around since 1985 and has grown from a provider of library automation systems to an ed-tech powerhouse that provides a full range of school software. Its offerings now include:

• Destiny Library Manager, which helps students find the resources they need;

• Destiny Textbook Manager, which helps districts keep track of their textbooks, potentially saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost textbook costs;

• Destiny Asset Manager, which helps track the other physical items a district is responsible for;

• TetraData, a data warehousing and analysis tool that transforms a district’s data into usable information, providing educators with information on how best to improve student learning; and

• Cognite, a learning management system that fosters collaboration and more personalized learning.

Follett Software said its acquisition of X2’s Aspen will tie into Cognite, meaning schools will have the option of getting a student information system and a learning management system in one package.

“With the acquisition of the Aspen SIS platform, Follett Software believes it is now ahead of the market because of its integration of key applications,” said Michael Campbell, director of marketing for Follett Software.

Campbell said a high-quality student information system is “flexible enough to meet the administrative needs of schools and districts and at the same time create a bridge to what is required on the academic front in the classroom and at home. In the end, districts want an effective, integrated education platform, not administration and learning systems that do not talk to each other.”

Pearson provides print and digital educational content for students in prekindergarten through college, as well as student information systems, learning management systems, professional development, career certification programs, and testing and assessments products.

Pearson’s student information systems already support about 11 million students, but its acquisition of aal extends its SIS market reach to more than 15 million students. aal also serves an international market: eSIS-JX is the Java version of eSIS and is currently deployed in Abu Dhabi.

Pearson’s current SIS, called PowerSchool, can be purchased as a stand-alone product or can be extended with the Pearson K12 Learning Suite. The K12 Learning Suite allows Pearson customers to grow their SIS to include learning management, assessment, reporting, data analytics, and content management.

“It changed our whole culture,” said Aaron Bryan, ed-tech director for New Jersey’s South Brunswick Township School District, referring to using the many facets of PowerSchool.

In this 9,100-student district with 10 schools, teachers use the SIS to input grades from school or home, and administrators can keep up with evolving state and federal reporting requirements with PowerSchool’s report-building tools.

The SIS also has a parent portal and online community-focused web site for support, services, downloads, and training.

“At Pearson, we are seeing the lines blur between an LMS and an SIS,” said Brent Bingham, vice president of product strategy for Pearson’s School Systems group. “While historically [the SIS] has included items like grades, attendance, [and] schedules, … we are seeing that expand much further to include [Response to Intervention], links to content, online learning, and more.”

Meris Stansbury

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