PowerSchool Unified Classroom™ Saves Hundreds Of Hours For RSU NO. 10 Educators

January 05, 2018

Maine’s Regional School Unit No. 10 school district serves 1,781 students and employs 170 instructors across six schools. RSU No. 10 has long been a satisfied PowerSchool customer; the district has used PowerSchool Student Information System since 2003. “PowerSchool has been the best SIS we’ve ever used, and I can honestly say that the program has only improved over time,” says Reinette Chenard, RSU No. 10’s data manager.

But as the district grew, it became increasingly plagued by challenges that inhibited student growth and teacher instructional abilities. Unfortunately, those issues extended beyond the capabilities of an SIS, including:

  • Multiple logins for multiple programs
  • Barriers to successful assessment, evaluation, and analysis of student performance
  • Need for one program to monitor student growth
  • Limitations on instructional and learning time

So, when the district decided it needed a technology upgrade to meet its evolving needs, it opted to implement another product from PowerSchool’s solution suite. In PowerSchool Unified Classroom™, RSU No. 10 found an ideal fit.

The award-winning Unified Classroom combines PowerSchool’s student information system, assessment, learning, and gradebook solutions into a single, unified software solution.

The solution has delivered numerous benefits since it was adopted. RSU No. 10 teachers save dozens of hours a term that they can devote to actual classroom instruction, and students and instructors benefit from an accurate and comprehensive view of student progress.

“With one platform for test results, another for grades, another for class content, that was a huge challenge. But now with the Unified Classroom, it’s really not so much of a challenge anymore,” Chenard says. “Everything’s in one spot.”

Time-Crunched Teachers

RSU No. 10’s teachers were uniquely burdened with a technology infrastructure that required them to juggle multiple applications to complete regular tasks, each with distinct systems and logins. That took time that could have been spent on teaching, and it added unnecessary stress to instructors’ days.

“The biggest challenge for us was multiple logins,” Chenard says. “In the middle of class teachers would have to direct the students to the student portal, and then maybe to another portal for a classroom detail.”

The district’s technology setup also prevented educators from gaining key insight into student performance. Not only was critical student information housed in separate portals, but teachers and administrators lacked key insight into performance.

“Another challenge was student analysis,” Chenard says.

“We actually had different systems. We had a platform that kept all our test data, and we had another platform that was somewhat functioning like a classroom management program.”

The district also fielded frustration from parents who wanted to be more engaged with their child’s progress.

“The other piece that we really had a hard time with was not providing enough information to our parents,” Chenard says. “The parents didn’t like that. They didn’t know how their students were doing in the classroom, and they didn’t know what the classroom content was. Parents found that a significant struggle.”

But just as students, educators, parents, and administrators were challenged by RSU No. 10’s technology limitations, each group has benefited from the district’s switch to Unified Classroom.

“Now we don’t have to worry about that. Everything’s in one platform with the Unified Classroom,” Chenard says.

Standards-Based Grading

A new law in Maine requires districts to report student proficiency to the state, starting with the current high school freshman class. Consequently, insight into student performance against state standards isn’t just a luxury — it’s a must-have feature.

The Unified Classroom helps RSU No. 10 fulfill that requirement — without forcing district staff to work extra hours — while also providing the flexibility to handle multiple types of grading.

“We have to let the state know that students have graduated based on certain proficiencies, and having this standards-based grading attached to the Unified Classroom only makes it easier for our district to accomplish our goals,” Chenard says.

At the same time: “We have two high schools that use both standards-based and traditional grading, and we report out on both. It’s very versatile. Whatever your district needs the program to do for you, it can do.”

But that sort of versatility and the availability of a range of information is only half the battle. If data isn’t presented in an organized and clear fashion, it can be virtually unusable. Unified Classroom’s user-friendly, consolidated dashboards make data accessible to permitted users, giving them at-a-glance insight into student performance.

“I love the standards-based grading graph on the dashboard page,” Chenard says. “I think this is the piece that our teachers use the most, in order to see where the students are either failing or progressing, and where they have to go back and reteach, or have students move ahead. I think for our teachers, this piece and the calendar are features they’re most impressed with.”

Easy Implementation

Chenard says that RSU No. 10 received step-by-step instructions, and with continual communication of their progress, each phase of implementation was excellent. The team appreciated receiving instructional documents to share with teachers, parents, and students, and found that the quick-reference documents for class pages and assessment were especially useful.

Chenard also notes that RSU No. 10 is eager to dive even deeper into UC’s assessment tools as the district continues to master and expand its use of the solution.

Regional School Unit 10 used a “train the trainers” approach to educate district personnel about Unified Classroom, taking 14 teachers, Chenard, and a curriculum coordinator through the complete process.

“I can honestly say that with grading we were up to speed within a few weeks, and class pages and assessments in just a few months,” Chenard says.

“I have always felt that communication is key. Our Implementation Manager communicated well, and I never felt like I was ‘waiting.’ We always proceeded smoothly. Unified Classroom Support has responded quickly and efficiently, and Live Assist has provided teachers a direct connection to support.”

Conclusion

When educator and family frustration stemming from outdated technology hit a boiling point, Maine’s RSU No. 10 school district turned to PowerSchool Unified Classroom for help.

PowerSchool’s solution not only seamlessly configured with the district’s existing SIS; it also saved teachers a significant amount of time and has helped educators and families gain deeper insight into student progress and trends.

Just as critically, Unified Classroom has helped RSU No. 10 evolve to meet new state reporting requirements, and it has provided educators the tools to better meet the needs of their students.

“Instructional time has increased significantly with the single sign-on. That means more time spent focused on the student,” Chenard says. “Having the gradebook, class pages and assessment all in one program, efforts aren’t duplicated, and monitoring the progress of the student is fluid. Communication with parents is better than it ever has been.”

Added Chandele Gray, a high school science teacher for RSU No. 10: “I love that it can score assignments, give students immediate feedback and record the results of their work automatically in the gradebook. I also really like having a one-stop location for students and parents to check grades, access lessons and assignments, and communicate upcoming events. It is really nice to not have to have students (and parents) remember multiple websites, logins and passwords.”

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