In many school districts, disparate systems don’t allow educators and administrators to connect their abundance of data in ways that offer educators meaningful insights for on-the-spot decision making.
Upper Dublin School District in Montgomery County, Pa., however, is leveraging the power of integrated data from SunGard K-12 Education’s PLUS 360 suite to inform its decision making and to support effective, efficient state reporting. The district has a well-deserved reputation for excellence in state reporting and has shared its data-informed best practices at state conferences.
The PLUS 360 suite 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 the information they need to engage students, affect positive change, and ultimately improve student achievement. The administrative software solutions can be deployed to work together or implemented as stand-alone systems to help meet educational goals and requirements.
Achieving Excellence in State Reporting
Peter Velocci, the district’s data systems manager, says he rests easier knowing his district is powered by PLUS 360.
“Our systems are humming; it’s like a symphony. And, it’s happening seamlessly. There’s no longer a need to analyze. We know that the data is there, and it’s accurate,” he says. “We’re comfortable and confident knowing that our data is being exported and checked for validation by SunGard K-12’s software. It certainly helps me sleep a lot better.”
For the district, the integrated PLUS 360 solution ensures that district reporting is always accurate. Recently, in fact, the district was recognized for excellence in its state reporting.
“The Montgomery County Intermediate Unit and the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Special Education Division, last year recognized us for 100-percent congruency as they transitioned from PennData, which was the legacy system that collected special education student information, to the Pennsylvania Information Management System statewide longitudinal data system,” he says. “Using our SunGard K-12 PLUS 360 applications, we were one of just a few districts to be congruent with both systems.”
Thanks to the integration between SunGard K-12’s applications, the district’s demographic data, which is stored in the eSchoolPLUS student information system, is shared seamlessly with the other PLUS 360 applications. “We love eSchoolPLUS and IEPPLUS. eSchoolPLUS records the information, and PLUS 360 integrates the various data elements that IEPPLUS needs,” he says. “Through that process, we are able to always come out on top.”
It’s important for the data to be correct as it has a direct impact on a district’s funding. Because of the accuracy of its reporting, Upper Dublin School District regularly receives all the money to which it is entitled from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Innovating with Integration
Most importantly, accurate data leads to accurate insights about student achievement for the district’s students, including more than 500 special education students. And with these insights, Upper Dublin is innovating its efforts to prepare its students for their future.
“Our board members are confident that we’re moving in the right direction based on data-driven decisions and our focus on student achievement,” says Velocci. “And, for our special education staff, it just gives them unbelievable assurance knowing that our data is correct and that they are making decisions based on that data and our comprehensive special education plan. The decisions being made are important for student progress in meeting IEP goals.”
For example, Upper Dublin launched a truancy initiative, which is informed by data from eSchoolPLUS. This program was recently highlighted at a Data Quality Network conference.
Based on weekly lists of students with unexcused absences drawn from eSchoolPLUS, the district identifies students who have accumulated multiple unexcused absences for special intervention. At three unexcused absences, correspondence is sent home to parents. Once the student accumulates six or more unexcused absences, the district will request a Truancy Elimination Plan meeting, during which a skilled guidance counselor will collaborate with the family to craft a student contract to improve attendance. Additional interventions—such as submitting a citation to the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas and referring the situation to the Office of Children and Youth Truancy Unit—also are considered for even higher levels of truancy.
As Upper Dublin innovates its programs, Velocci says that the district receives outstanding support from SunGard K-12.
“The products are solid, but what we enjoy most is knowing that we have SunGard K-12 on our side. I can’t say enough about the company’s Support. They’re always helpful,” he says. “And, the Regulatory Team is just unbelievable. I’ve worked with other software providers, and weekly regulatory calls are just unheard of.”
So as it moves forward with its initiatives, Upper Dublin knows that it has a valuable partner with SunGard K-12 Education.