Steve Jarrett is pretty accurate in his post here about the process being undertaken at the DOE to work on this issue.
Here is a letter that was posted to the VPA newsletter on Nov. 20 about this very topic. Bob McNamara is acting as liaison between the schools and DOE on this project. He is a good resource as you continue exploring this area. I have pasted the text of his message to the superintendents and principals here.. (his contact email is at the bottom.)
It is difficult to really have "information" for the schools while this process is being undertaken.
To: Vermont Superintendents of School and School Principals
It is somewhat ironic that I am writing to you at a time when your school and district
staff are scurrying to finish the Fall census report to the DOE. The census report is frustrating
because the information, almost always available electronically at the local level, has to be
reentered manually on a website that requires a version of Internet Explorer that has already
been replaced by many schools.
The purpose of this correspondence is to tell you about some work being done right
now that could significantly improve the way data are transmitted within and between schools,
districts and the state.
I have been frustrated for years that, in a state as small as Vermont, we couldn't find
efficient and effective ways to transmit information securely, accurately and efficiently. I have
looked out to other states that have found ways to overcome these problems.
In the last ten years, the reasons for not moving forward have been removed:
Schools, districts, and the state all have internet access - high speed in almost all cases;
methodologies have been developed to transmit data securely, and; there is a growing
understanding and acceptance that establishing a system to manage education data
electronically does not infringe on local control. The last, and in some ways the most important
element has been a willingness at the DOE to take leadership in moving this forward.
Commissioner Villeseca (a former superintendent and principal) has stated clearly and publicly
that we must establish a student information system that will allow for the safe, accurate
transmission of data that is required for schools and districts. Furthermore, he has challenged
the department to do it in a way that is not redundant to local efforts to address other data
It is the commissioner's vision that, if such a system was in place, rather than the days
of work transferring ADM data, a district would receive an email stating when the state would
go into the system and the responsibility of the district would be to make sure it is accurate by
that date! I am using the ADM example today but as you know this plays out in every state
data collection we are "wasting" time on today.
As we all know, vision isn't enough without resources. Establishing a system like this
costs money. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds have provided $245
million dollars for $2 to $20 million dollar grants to states to improve the collection and use of
data preK-16. The funds are only available to State Education Agencies, which narrows the
competition significantly. A number of state agencies are not in a position to take advantage of
them. I think the odds are good that we could land a significant grant to implement a system
over a three-year period.
A Vermont proposal is being developed now and has to be submitted in early
December. I have agreed to work with the DOE to serve as a liaison between the DOE and
schools and districts. By working together, these resources can provide us something that will
make difference and can be embraced across the education system. The DOE has asked that
I find ways to get you meaningfully involved. This communication is the first step - letting you
know that there is an opportunity that could make a positive difference.
Bob McNamara, former Superintendent of Schools
Email: mailto:[log in to unmask]
Education Technology Coordinator
Vermont Department of Education
120 State St.
Montpelier, VT 05620-2501
[log in to unmask]
From: School Information Technology Discussion [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Susan Sheets
Sent: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 1:21 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Student Information Systems
Addison Central SU recently chose PowerSchool. Briefly...
- We have 6 small elementary schools each of which had a small database, spreadsheet or word doc with student information.
- We have one larger elementary school that converted from MacSchool
- The middle school and high school converted from SASI
- We took 6 months to create the RFP, put out to bid, receive proposals, see demonstrations and do site visits.
- We negotiated a phased implementation. I would strongly recommend the phased approach vs. the 90 day implementation Pearson is pushing.
- Depending on the size of the district, I also think having one person focused 100% on the implementation is recommended.
- During the 08-09 school year we converted all data, customized PowerSchool to meet our needs, rolled out demographics and attendance to
7 elementary schools and 1 middle school.
- During the first year our high school also used PowerSchool scheduling to begin their implementation.
- 09-10 School year. High school went live with everything. All remaining schools added gradebook and report card production.
- Our Pearson Project Manager was great, Pearson support has been mostly good. Some support rep's are better than others but overall better than the support we received from Weidenhammer.
Overall, things have gone very smoothly. No system is perfect though and
there have been some frustrations. I would say "out of the box"
reporting is the weakest area of PowerSchool, though you can create your
own reports (if you have enough time - which we haven't). If you want
more details, feel free to give me a call.
I would love to see an active PowerSchool Users group created for our state though I'm not sure how to get that going. There is an inactive
Yahoo group and an inactive google group already created. Any ideas?
Susan T. Sheets
Student Information System Manager
Addison Central Supervisory Union
49 Charles Ave
Middlebury, VT 05753
School Information Technology Discussion <[log in to unmask]> writes:
>Does anyone have any suggestions about selecting a student information
>system. If you have recently gone with a new system it would be helpful
>to hear your experiences. I'm constructing a matrix and want to make
>sure all considerations are in it without being overwhelming. I would
>really like to hear from those of you who have a success story to tell.