Your school district’s student information system (SIS) is the foundation of its digital learning efforts. It empowers teachers, students, parents, and administrators alike.
It also embraces the full potential of education technology, combining a digital database with a wealth of additional optimization, analytics, and integration functionality.
If you’re here, it’s because you already understand how important it is to choose the right SIS for your school district. You know that just as the right choice leads to better learning and improved outcomes for your students, the wrong choice may very well achieve the opposite.
The good news is that with a bit of research and planning, finding the right SIS is easier than you’d think. It’s all a matter of knowing what questions to ask.
Read on to learn more about the top questions you need to ask when looking for a new SIS solution.
Chances are good that you already have some basic idea of what you want from your SIS. As part of the decision-making process, take a deeper dive into your district’s specific wants and needs.
Modern SIS solutions are typically packed with out-of-the-box functions, and many SIS vendors also offer multiple modules through which their software’s functionality can be expanded.
Make a list of must-have features for your SIS. For anything beyond that, ask yourself if it’s something your district will actually use. You don’t want a platform laden with too many bells and whistles, especially if that means increased costs or reduced performance.
Most modern SIS software is cloud-based, and with good reason. In addition to being significantly easier to deploy and manage, they also tend to have a lower total cost of ownership, as you don’t need to install specialized hardware every time you want to extend your SIS to a new location.
While you certainly can settle for an on-premises solution if it meets all of your other requirements perfectly, all things being equal, cloud is the best option.
Managing student information can often feel as though you’re trying to carry water uphill in a barrel that’s constantly springing leaks. Reporting requirements and compliance for school districts can be incredibly complex, something made even worse by the fact that they’re also constantly changing.
You need a SIS that’s flexible enough to easily keep pace with regulatory changes.
Customizability is another non-negotiable feature. Every school is a little different, and every teacher has their own unique needs and challenges. Look for a SIS that’s designed to empower faculty with granular control over both interface and functionality.
It doesn’t matter how well a SIS fits your district on paper. If it comes packaged with a steep learning curve, your deployment will ultimately do more harm than good.
A powerful SIS is simple and intuitive, not just for faculty but also administrators, parents, and students.
Look closely at the interface, and ask a prospective vendor to show you a demo if possible.
In a world defined by digital learning and distributed work, application fatigue is a very real problem. If your teachers are forced to constantly jump between multiple apps over the course of a regular school day, they may well end up burnt out.
Not only that, a lack of interoperability inevitably leads to the creation of data silos, and consequently means missing out on potentially crucial insights.
What’s the key takeaway here? Simply put, in today’s information era, visibility and collaboration are must-haves.
One of the things that truly defines SIS solutions compared to traditional e-learning platforms is how they interact with student data. A good SIS is designed to provide teachers with actionable insights on each student一data which can then be used to tailor that student’s learning experience. How this information is displayed is everything.
If your teachers can’t tell at a glance what a SIS is trying to convey to them at any given time, seek an alternative.
Software functionality is certainly important, but in many cases, it’s the vendor that makes or breaks the experience.
While ideally you want a SIS that requires no technical support, we’d still advise looking for a company that’s available 24/7 to address any questions, comments, or concerns you may have.
Last but certainly not least, read the reviews. Analysts such as Gartner tend to maintain a comprehensive library of software reviews like Gartner, and there are also software review libraries such as Capterra.
Do a bit of browsing, and see how a prospective vendor’s clients feel about them.
We understand how frustrating it is when a SIS doesn’t work quite right, or when it doesn’t provide the information you actually need to see. That’s why we’ve designed our own SIS software around the unique challenges of K-12 schools, districts, and modern education.
With our dedicated SIS specialists available to assist you 24/7 and a modern user experience, our integrated SIS platform is ready to meet your challenges head on.
Interested in learning more? Contact us today to get in touch with one of our SIS specialists.