September 1, 2011

Success Story: Delaware and SunGard K-12 Education Race to the Top

Delaware, one of two winners in phase one funding for Race to the Top, offers SunGard K-12 Education solutions across the state, giving big benefits to even the smallest districts.

In March 2010 the State of Delaware was selected for Phase 1 funding in the Race to the Top competitive federal grant to improve education in public schools, along with Tennessee. As part of this award, Delaware will receive approximately $100M over four years. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan singled out Tennessee and Delaware for their strong stakeholder support, and for building a statewide, comprehensive plan that will affect “every single child” in those states.

Since 2004 the Delaware Department of Education has implemented the eSchoolPLUS student information system in about 35 districts and 180 schools across the state. Part of SunGard’s PLUS 360 suite of products for K-12 education, eSchoolPLUS is a student information system that helps educators and parents by providing them direct, real-time access to the most relevant student information available.

To promote the highest quality education for every student—and to ensure accuracy in its accountability reports—the Delaware Department of Education takes a very active role in the local districts’ information systems. Delaware centralized its student and special ed information systems using solutions from SunGard K-12 Education.

The state system includes eSchoolPLUS for K-12 student information management and IEPPLUS for special education program management. The state offers the systems to schools on a voluntary basis: none are required to run the software. But with the exception of a single charter school, every Delaware school manages its data with SunGard K-12 Education systems. As word spread throughout the state and districts saw what the others were getting, more and more districts wanted to use eSchoolPLUS.

Educators around the state agree with Education Specialist Suzanne Hamel when she said, “It’s a great program that does so much for the district.”

One solution for a diverse state

Take a drive through tiny Delaware and you’ll see cities, suburbs, farmland, high-tech centers, and coastal villages. It’s almost like visiting a condensed version of the entire country. The same could be said for a tour of the state’s educational system.

Large or small, urban or rural, academically proficient or working toward improvement, all Delaware schools have benefited from software from a single source: SunGard K-12 Education.

Helping small districts

The state performs the service of overseeing the SunGard K-12 Education system for the schools because many local districts are quite small. The average district contains only five schools. So whether a district has four or 14 schools, educators can see, in a glance, how each student is performing in class. They can also view attendance, discipline and longitudinal data and run accountability, achievement, certification, or demographic reports with full confidence in the accuracy of the data.

Saving money and man-hours

Though the statewide system is sizable, the cost of running it is not. The SunGard solutions have been cost-effective for Delaware because they help many employees do their jobs more efficiently — especially those in IT.

“Without a centralized program like eSchoolPLUS, it would take about four to five times the amount of man-hours to reformat—and the data would not be as accurate as it is now,” said Bruce Dacey, Educational Associate, Public Accounting and Data Manager.

Because the system is web-based, the system can be monitored and updated centrally. “We can upgrade ten web servers instead of having to install software on thousands of machines,” said Robert Czeizinger, Director of Technology, Management and Design.

Multi-Platform

When it’s time to perform enhancements, the upgrades automatically take effect in about 35 districts and 180 schools all around the state. Czeizinger said, “The users automatically get access to the upgraded software. There’s hardly any technical load on us.” Delaware Schools run all types of computers: Windows, Mac OS and UNIX. SunGard K-12 Education systems run smoothly on all. “It’s not platform specific. That’s one big plus,” said Czeizinger. He said the SunGard systems were “a natural choice” for an IT department with multiple districts on multiple platforms.

Dashboards for easy access to data

End-users across the state appreciate the system’s easy accessibility. Anyone familiar with the world wide web feels right at home with the end-user interface. Convenient Dashboards give district leaders instant access to broad-scope performance indicators, such as key No Child Left Behind (NCLB) measures and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) scores.

Audit checks are built into the system to verify precision.

Home Access for Parents

Not only are employees and nurses gaining unprecedented access to data, parents are more involved as well. They can log into the Home Access Center at any time for a snapshot of their children’s progress and assignments.

That new parental involvement has made a big difference in their children’s education. In addition to being an Educational Specialist, Suzanne Hamel is a parent who appreciates the Home Access Center. At any time, she can log on to review what her daughter is learning and where she lags behind.

Hamel recently opened the Home Access portal. She commented on her daughter’s performance as she scrolled through the posted results. “This is her language arts, incomplete. I can send an email to the teacher and ask her why it wasn’t done. Here’s the math test. Here’s her Bill of Rights writing piece. This is how I stay on top of my 13-year-old,” said Hamel.

To learn more visit: sungard.com/k-12

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Comments and Reviews
  1. “Home Access for Parents

    Not only are employees and nurses gaining unprecedented access to data, parents are more involved as well. They can log into the Home Access Center at any time for a snapshot of their children’s progress and assignments.”

    This is incorrect. I have three children in Delaware public schools and access to none of their progress or information. Who is checking compliance to this?

    Posted by Marnee on
    1. Hi Marnee, Thank you for your feedback and we are sorry to hear you have not had access. While Home Access Center is available to all districts in Delaware, some may not have deployed it as of yet.

      Posted by Matthew Berringer Post authoron
  2. Greetings… Does eSchoolPlus provide a built-in HAC usage report, or an easily-constructed custom usage report?

    I am a Delaware parent and member of several parent committees. As a parent I think HAC is a great enabler of parent involvement and student performance. We would like more parents and students to benefit from HAC, and we stand ready to do outreach and education programs so more students and parents can benefit from HAC.

    But we don’t know how many of our families are actively using HAC. So we are looking for a way parent groups can receive a HAC usage report. For example, a monthly report showing unique HAC logins per day, or something similar, ideally presented in a simple chart. The report should show usage by school, by district, and for the whole state.

    This seems like something that should be readily available in a major web application such as eSchoolPlus. Ideally this type of report would be available in an easily available tab of both HAC and TAC. But a simple spreadsheet would be fine for now.

    We have approached our District and our State administrators and have not gotten a clear answer on whether such a report is available within eSchoolPlus, either as a built-in report or an easily constructed custom report.

    I would appreciate learning this information directly from SunGard, so that I can be better informed how to ask our State administrators to provide these reports to parent groups.

    Regards,

    Mike O.

    Posted by Mike Oboryshko on
  3. Pingback: Data-driven decision making takes a pratfall « the seventh type

  4. I really like your writing style, wonderful information, thank you for posting :D. “In every affair consider what precedes and what follows, and then undertake it.” by Epictetus.

    Posted by terry sacka on
  5. The statement, “Delaware Schools run all types of computers: Windows, Mac OS and UNIX. SunGard K-12 Education systems run smoothly on all. It’s not platform specific” is not totally true. I work in a local school district as an itinerant and travel a great deal between schools. I access the Internet via an iPad or Mac book and CAN NOT access eschool plus at all. It is not comparable with Safari, or the Mac OS. It is very frustrating and makes my job much harder. A mobile app would be so beneficial especially since so many schools and their employees are tech savvy and utilize a variety of mobile devices regularly.

    Posted by Jennifer Lehman on
    1. Thanks, Jennifer, for your comment. While our Teacher Access Center works on both Mac and PC, we agree that cross-browser support should be a high priority for eSchoolPLUS. We have already begun work on eSchoolPLUS to bring it to all major browsers, and expect to roll out this support in phases over the next 18-24 months. And, we also agree that mobile apps are an essential tool for our school administrators, parents, and teachers. This summer, we released the eSchoolPLUS Admin Mobile App. [To read our news release on the app please visit THIS LINK.] We’re also currently working on an app for parents and teachers and hope to have them available in the near future. Watch our customer newsletter for updates about all of these projects!

      Joel Hames
      Senior Product Manager

      Posted by Matthew Berringer Post authoron

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