• Edsembli Products

  • Resources

What is a student management system? The basics & more

School systems are highly complex structures designed to serve people of all disciplines. They’re not just for the teachers, but for students, their families, and the communities we live in.

Student management systems have seen a significant shift over the past few years, due in no small part to the pandemic. Not only do these systems need to remain organized, they need to be continuously up to date. 

Keeping data accurate, updated, and accessible is key in today’s digital age. 

So, what exactly is a student management system and what does a successful solution look like? Read on to learn the basics of student management systems, how they work, and the benefits they offer.

What Is a Student Management System?

You likely rely on a calendar every day to manage your tasks and obligations. 

So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that teachers need powerful, integrated solutions to track student activity, classroom progress, and other development milestones.  

Enter the student management system (or SMS for short).

A student management system is designed to record, analyze, and manage information in a school. These systems are updated by teachers and school administrators on a rolling basis to better serve the needs of the greater student body. 

Without a student management system, schools would become disorganized, staff would lack clarity into scheduling and student activity, and it would become increasingly difficult for school districts to leverage data in the decision-making process.

What Does a Student Management System Do?

two teachers using their computers in the classroom

The student management system has a few key parts that address the general needs of students. While they can be customized further depending on niche and expertise, they usually look like this:

General Fees

Whether a student needs to pay for books or buy art supplies, the student management system will help keep track of these fees. Student management systems can use library modules to track late fees, manage payments for field trips, and other items. 


What classes are the students signing up for? Did they graduate or drop out? The student management system helps administrators track registrations, course enrolment, and other admissions tasks.


How are students performing in class? Does the class structure need to change? The ongoing needs of a school can be difficult to manage without the aid of a digital system. Student management systems track student progress, grades, curriculum-specific requirements, and more.

Related: K-12 Assessment Strategies: An Overview of the Top Marking Strategies

Student Management vs. School Management: What’s the Difference?

Turned on Imac Beside Macbook on Table

The difference between these two systems is small, yet significant. While school management involves students on a broader level, student management is a little more personal. 

School management may include enrollment, funding, or legal needs. It’s primarily geared toward the needs of the staff and the school board. Student management looks at everything from admissions to the personal health of students.

What Should a Student Management System Include?

A student management system should cover a few key topics all students will go through. While each educational journey has unique details, they all follow a similar structure on the way to graduation.

Student Schedule Management

This aspect of the student management system involves admissions, deadlines, and holidays. When does the student attend class? Are they constantly skipping courses?

This section helps teachers track their student’s progress and spot patterns early.

Student Health Information

The health of a student is a primary concern for teachers. Physical and mental health issues can be recorded if they could impact a student’s ability to attend classes. 

Grade Book and Transcript Information

This section is one of the more obvious aspects of the student management system. Recording grades is essential to ensure students can graduate or transfer smoothly. 

Missing information can cause delays, interrupting a student’s ability to learn.

Related: Top Technology Trends That Will Define Education in 2022 and Beyond

Students are under more stress than ever these days. We offer schools the strategies and tools they need to address the demands of their student body.

What Should You Look for In a Student Management System?

woman working on a classroom project from home

If your student management system is not up to par, you’ll feel it. These systems provide teachers, staff, and the school board with the ability to properly address student needs.

Make sure your system has the following details so you can get the full benefit.

Intuitive User Interface

Your system shouldn’t be difficult to navigate. If you’re not sure where to go or how to download something, you’re dealing with a clunky interface.

Sleek interfaces are bright, easy-to-read, and have clear directions on how to complete a task.

Simple On-Boarding Process

Schools are highly dynamic settings. Students graduate, teachers change classes, and new students come in.

Your student management system should have a simple onboarding process so anyone can pick it up easily. Look for a solution that leverages automation to expedite this process.

Strong Customer Service

Have questions about your student management system? Make sure you have good customer service on hand, ready to answer any questions as they arise.

Even if you’re highly tech-savvy, there’s always a possibility of you running into a snag while using the system. Good customer service should be attentive, punctual, and eager to help.

Expansion Potential

Why not get more than one use out of your student management system? Flexible systems can be applied not just to schools, but also to additional applications through integration.

If you find the needs of the school expanding in the future, jot down this section as a must-have feature.

Clear Billing Breakdowns

The last thing you want to do is ask questions about payment or billing cycles. Nobody likes surprise bills, even if they technically signed up for them.

Ask questions upfront about pricing, add-ons, and possible fees. You’ll be glad you took the time to do so.

Related: Better Data, Better Teaching: How a Data-Driven Culture Can Transform Education

Benefits of Using a Student Management System

a happy student doing homework on his notepad

You can likely already guess the benefits of having a flexible, easy-to-use student management system. Just to hammer the point home, let’s take a look at what you can expect.

Enhances the Overall Performance of Students

Students study better when they’re not constantly fumbling with administrative tasks. A student management system will allow you to record information more accurately and update it more frequently.

The less headache the student body experiences, the better!

Streamline Tasks

Do you sometimes find yourself doing the same task twice? Wasted time is a highly frustrating side-effect of an inefficient system.

A student management system is more straightforward, offering concrete tasks and firm deadlines.

Improves Communication

Miscommunication is a serious problem in business organizations these days. A recent study has found that email, text, and video can sometimes make communication worse instead of better.

Your student management system ensures everyone has the same information at the same time.

Accessible to Parents

As stated above, it’s not just students and teachers who benefit from these systems. Parents also have the opportunity to better track their childrens’ progress on an ongoing basis.

Better Management and Organization

This point can’t be stressed enough. When just one piece of inaccurate information can cause hours of wasted time and extra calls, this feature is essential.

Student management systems promote better organization up and down the ladder, keeping everyone on the same page.

Maintains Student Records

Students need their records so they can attend certain classes or extracurriculars. This information is also vital for helping them apply for grants or scholarships.

Lost records can set students back and affect their confidence. 

Reduces Admin and Other Resources

Do you tire of administrative tasks? Reduce the amount of background noise with the aid of a student management system.

Accurately recorded information has a way of reducing unnecessary back-and-forth. You might even find some tasks becoming obsolete once you have a better system in place.

Inbuilt Library Management

Are you struggling to keep track of missing books, laptops, and rented equipment? An inbuilt library management system is a feature of student management software. 

Record everything from due dates to damages so nobody is left wondering what to do.

Examples of Student Management Software

There is a few forms student management software can take, depending on the unique needs of your school. Software shifts on a dime, so it’s imperative to stay up-to-date on the latest trends.

Cloud-based software is easily the most popular thanks to its ability to be adjusted on the fly. It’s also more streamlined and accessible to everyone involved in student management. If you’ve ever had to deal with data silos, you’ll be happy to use this software.

Gradelink SIS, IGradePlus, and FreshSchools are just a few of the software on the market today.

Final Thoughts

person learning online

Student management software is the glue that holds the pillars of education together. It provides leadership, administrators, teachers, and students with instant access to essential information—all at the touch of a button.

Your school management software should have an easy-to-read interface, a simple learning curve, and a robust feature set. These key features include tracking student health information, support for additional modules like a library system or IEPs, regular security updates, and access to key student data.

Are you looking to unlock the full potential of your student data? Contact us today to see what you can accomplish with a fully integrated student management system.

Book your demo with an Edsembli education specialist today

Building an ecosystem for education