Weslaco Chooses eSchoolPLUS for Regulatory Support, End-User Experience
Located in south central Hidalgo County, Texas, Weslaco Independent School District has a vision of empowering “21st-century learners with effective communication, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills they can adapt for success in higher education and the diverse global marketplace.” The district serves approximately 19,000 students at three high schools, four middle schools, and 11 elementary schools. Weslaco Independent School District has received the Recognized School District distinction from the Texas Education Agency 14 out of the past 16 years.
“SunGard K-12 Education is providing all of the necessary screens and tools … The state regulatory group has been very responsive.”
Juan Ruelas | Director of Information Systems | PEIMS Weslaco Independent School District
Weslaco Independent School District, Texas, was one of the last districts using a particular student information system when the software developer announced that the product reached end of life.
After bringing together administrators and educators to consider options for a new student information system, the district selected eSchoolPLUS to manage and give its staff access to student information and to meet the constantly evolving regulatory requirements in Texas.
Weslaco Independent School District (ISD), Texas, was one of the last school districts using a now retired student information system when the product reached end of life. Although the district’s Information Systems staff really liked the student information system, they had been writing their own regulatory software for a couple years when the Texas Education Agency mandated the transition to XML data standards.
At that point, the district decided to transition to a new student information system. Educators and administrators from across the district were brought together to consider options for a replacement. In reviewing new systems, Juan Ruelas, director of information systems/PEIMS, said a system with robust state reporting support and a strong user experience were high on the district’s wish list.
After considering a number of options, the district selected eSchoolPLUS, SunGard K-12’s student information system. Part of the PLUS 360® suite, eSchoolPLUS is a recognized, industry-leading student information management system for K-12 schools. It has received Gartner’s highest possible rating, was named to District Administration’s Top 100 products list, and was a finalist in the 2014 CODiE Award Program. A cost-effective software solution, eSchoolPLUS helps educators manage day-to-day student administration, monitor student performance, and facilitate communications between district staff, parents, and students.
Weslaco ISD proceeded quickly with implementation. With a highly capable in-house Information Systems team, the district elected to do the conversion in house and launched the system after an implementation that took just a few months. Ruelas said the support the district staff received during the process from SunGard K-12’s Professional Services team was outstanding. “They were very experienced,” he said. “They provided everything we needed.”
Focus on State Reporting
As he looks forward at the dynamic landscape of K-12 education in Texas, Ruelas is glad that the district is supported by an administrative software vendor that provides exceptional regulatory support. “State reporting is our accountability to the state and is how we manage important data,” he explains. “SunGard
K-12 Education’s state regulatory group is superb.”
For example, when Texas’ State Board of Education implemented regulations associated with new graduation requirements mandated by Texas House Bill 5, SunGard K-12 was there with software support to help the district be successful.
“SunGard K-12 is providing all of the necessary screens and tools, and we’re working on implementing them,” says Ruelas. “The state regulatory group has been very responsive.”
Strong End-User Experience
Three years after implementation, the district is still happy with its decision to choose eSchoolPLUS.
Key for the district is the strong end- user experience the system provides. “eSchoolPLUS has almost a genius design. It’s so flexible for end users to find data. And to me, the end-user support is the most important aspect of things,” observes Ruelas.
With the prior system, the district’s technology team would have to develop a special report any time administrators needed access to new district data and then install it on their menu. Now with eSchoolPLUS, administrators have the data they need at their fingertips without calling for support. “The ability to find the data, the ability to search the system is very strong,” he says. “They can find the data in most ways that they want it.”
And ultimately, putting data at the fingertips of its administrators so that they can gain insights to support student achievement is an essential ingredient in Weslaco ISD’s success.