SIS – Ramona USD in California

September 08, 2016

As a parent, Tony Newman believes the PowerSchool mobile app helps make his school children accountable for their academic success. Both Tony and his children are notified in real-time with grades, attendance, assignments, and more. “I think the mobile app is genius. What I love about it is it helps my sons take responsibility for their learning. It helps them take ownership,” Tony says. “PowerSchool has taken that big curtain that was protecting or hiding grades from students, and opened it up, and allowed these students instant access so they know where they’re at, and how well they’re doing and they’re able to monitor that.” And as the Assistant Superintendent of Ramona Unified School District, Tony appreciates even more tangible benefits about PowerSchool, including how easy it is to use and access student data readily available at his fingertips.

Overview

Located 30 miles northeast of San Diego, Calif., Ramona Unified School District is a rural district serving 5,700 students within seven elementary schools, two middle schools, and four high schools.

The district had been using a student information system it found was too complex and difficult to use, requiring cumbersome codes for users to memorize just to be able to get into and use the system. In short, it lacked the fundamental SIS functionality of allowing users to easily access student data.

“We were looking for something user friendly, something that would help us communicate with parents and students, and something that would bring all the information that’s out there together in an easy, accessible program. We were looking for something that would provide us with information about our students at our fingertips,” Tony explains.

Why PowerSchool?

Ramona USD evaluated four different student information systems, and found exactly what it was looking for in PowerSchool, the most widely used Student Information System in K-12 education.

“PowerSchool was the winner by far – for ease of use, functionality, what we wanted out of a student information system,” says Keith Wright, Ramona USD’s Director of Information Systems.

“The first thing that we looked at is how widely used is the student information system out there? PowerSchool is the most used student information system in the world. With that market share comes the experience from a lot of different districts, the use from a lot of different states, and all of that functionality built in so they can build pieces off of each other to make the product better.”

“I remember one of the selling points was that you could get to any of the information within PowerSchool in three or four clicks. That was huge to us,” says Tony.

Solution

Since Ramona USD implemented PowerSchool, the robust SIS has met all of the district’s core needs, proving to be a powerful solution that is extremely user friendly, allows quick, easy access to all student data, and provides essential information for parents and students to open up communication.

USER FRIENDLY
“I’m impressed mostly with how user friendly the program is. Whether you’re an administrator, a secretary, a parent, a teacher, a student – for all the clientele who use it – it’s built for them. It’s very intuitive. You don’t have to go through hours and hours of training to understand how to navigate PowerSchool. It just makes sense. They did a really nice job making things so that you could figure out in those two, three clicks where you need to go,” said Tony.

I’m not very tech savvy. And for me to get where I am in PowerSchool in a short period of time is phenomenal,” said Dave Lohman, Principal, Montecito High School.

MOBILE APPS & COMMUNICATION
KEITH: “The new parent mobile app is fantastic. Being able to allow our parents to see what their students are doing in real time takes a lot of concern away from me and how we communicate with parents. It’s done right away.”
DAVE: “I was floored by the instant feedback you receive. As an administrator, that is so cool. I think the app is a motivator for them – to go back and correct things they forgot or missed.”
TONY: “The first thing that I fell in love with was the emails that were generated weekly. I would get emails summarizing what my student’s grades were. I also love that I could go in on my time and look at my children’s grades. And if I have a question, I know that I can send an email to my son’s teachers really quickly.”
TONY: “From an administrator’s perspective, you can pull up a student’s class schedule, their grades within that schedule, their attendance, a demographics page with information about their families, address and phone number really quickly. Those are the types of information that I love having at my fingertips within seconds of logging in.”

EFFICIENCY AND SAVING TIME
DAVE: “It makes my job a lot easier. What I like about PowerSchool from a principal’s perspective is the instant access I have to student information. I don’t have to go through a bazillion codes to get the information I want. Two or three clicks and I’m there where I want to be. It’s timely, it’s consistent. I don’t have to hunt and ask other questions and other people to find information out for me. From grades, to attendance, to discipline issues, demographics, the parents or guardians of those students – it’s within two or three seconds from when I log on to get that information. It doesn’t waste time.”
TONY: “Because it’s web-based, the accessibility of it is great. We’d be in meetings offsite, or we’d be at home, or supervising a football game or a basketball game, and if there’s something you need to know, you can access it – whether it’s your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. As an administrator, there’s so many things that pull your time. To have a system that’s so efficient, I think is incredible.”
“Before we had PowerSchool, if we needed information about a student we had to go ask either our secretaries, the registrar, or the counselor. With PowerSchool, we are able to pull that information up on our own computers. It’s much more efficient, and we’re able to save time.”

SUPPORT
TONY: “Every step of the way, whenever we ran into something we didn’t understand, PowerSchool was there to help us get through that. We didn’t have to wait for answers because it was really quick. Under our old system we would have to call the County and have to wait for somebody to get back to us, and it would stop the process.”

STATE REPORTING
KEITH: “State reporting is always going to be a challenge. Just trying to keep up with what the state is doing and changing. The nice thing about PowerSchool is they are very close in with the people who make those decisions at the state. Those changes come out rapidly, and we typically don’t have to wait long at all for when the state makes a change, and it’s implemented into PowerSchool. We get updates on any state reporting change and those changes go right into PowerSchool. Reports are ready and implemented pretty much instantaneously.”

REAL-TIME NOTIFICATIONS
Tony Newman and his son both received a red arrow notification via their PowerSchool mobile app — indicating the student’s grade had dropped. Concerned, Tony immediately texted his son for an update.

“Because of the PowerSchool app, my son saw that he received a zero for an assignment that he had turned in that day,” Tony says. “That’s when he remembered that he forgot to put his name on the assignment. Right away he went to his teacher and sure enough, the assignment was in the ‘no name’ pile. But if he didn’t have the app giving him instant notification, who knows how long it would have been before he would have realized he didn’t turn it in or have his name on it? The instant feedback is phenomenal. It allows our students to take responsibility for their learning.”

INDEPENDENT SOFTWARE VENDOR (ISV) PARTNER PROGRAM
KEITH: “The ISV program allows different vendors to be preapproved by PowerSchool so they know that that interoperability works. We’ve teamed up with several partners. Going through PowerSchool University or different PowerSchool User Groups, we’ve met a lot of different companies that are ISV partners. The nice thing is with the way PowerSchool is set up, they can tie into the system, with permissions from PowerSchool from us. Their data can transfer into ours, our data can transfer into them seamlessly so we don’t have to worry about running reports that we load to a server and they upload that file. It’s seamless, and those partners have allowed us to use different products and make the SIS even more usable for us.”

Conclusion

PowerSchool is proud to have helped improve Ramona Unified School Districts’ efficiency and communication as it serves its student population. Looking to the future, Ramona is excited to be partnering with a company that invests in innovations and improvements to help schools and districts effectively manage student data. As PowerSchool grows and improves, our vision remains to be the best comprehensive K-12 solution.

KEITH: “Where the product is going is even more exciting. Since PowerSchool became its own company, the growth of the product in the last few months has been rapid. They’re now investing more into the product, there are more people working on the product, and it’s become even more usable. It was so much better of a system than all of the competitors we looked at, and it’s better now than it was then.”

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