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   DataBus - Vol 41 No. 5: August-September, 2001
A Web-based Solution for Student Data Management

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 98 percent of all schools and 77 percent of all instructional rooms are connected to the Internet. With this rapid wiring of our nation's schools, school leaders are now finding the Internet is more than vehicle for traveling cyberspace in search of reference materials, information and lesson plans. They are finding that systems like PowerSchool can help them maximize the investment of hardware and network infrastructure while increasing communication links between administrators, teachers, parents and students.
PowerSchool from Apple is a full-featured, web-based student information system that gives school administrators a cost-effective, streamlined solution for data gathering and reporting. It also provides real-time access for parents to performance data about their children while offering teachers an online gradebook and class management tool. In effect, PowerSchool harnesses the power of the Internet to provide K-12 schools with real-time access to vital data and establish a communication link between key stakeholders who work together to enhance student performance.
Because PowerSchool is a web-based system, it reduces and in most cases, eliminates redundant data entry for common tasks such as taking attendance, grade reporting and course enrollment. For example, as a teacher enters attendance records in her classroom, those records are immediately accessible to others who have their own personal, confidential username and password including the attendance secretary, the school counselor and principal as well as each student's parent. That same class attendance data, along with other updated school records, are immediately available to district personnel who may use it to evaluate trends or compile money reports.
While the use of computer-based student information systems is not a new application of technology, a system like PowerSchool that leverages the Internet to streamline data management and enhance communication is a state-of-the-art technology application that saves time and money. For the last four years, administrators throughout the country have used PowerSchool to make data-driven decisions based on real-time data. Teachers, too have benefited from its automated reporting functions, homework postings, grade reports and communication features.
Students and parents use PowerSchool to access to real-time information about every detail of their education including attendance, grades, homework assignments and even, lunch account balances. PowerSchool's built-in communication features allow parents to specify frequency of email progress reports that are automatically generated by the system. Parents can use automatic email links to send messages to their children's teachers and, by staying attentive to class progress, head off problems before the semester grade report arrives too late to take action.
Even students who might initially shy away from the information access provided by PowerSchool appreciate the information it provides. "I love this system! I don't know how I got along without it before we started using it. It lets students check and make sure that the teacher recorded their score and that it's accurate. If they don't, the student knows it while it's still fresh in both the student and teacher's memory," commented a 10th grade student from Madison, Idaho.
In the classroom, teachers use PowerSchool as an electronic gradebook. They can quickly enter grades, take attendance, post homework assignments, and streamline other administrative tasks such as printing letters, progress reports and class announcements. And for teachers who frequently grade papers at home, the web-based system is accessible anywhere they happen to be working, freeing up valuable class time to spend with students, not administrative tasks.
IT staff appreciate that PowerSchool offers an ASP (application service provider) option which greatly reduces installation and maintenance time while increasing security and stability of the district's mission-critical SIS. A software license option is available for districts wishing to host their own server and data. In this configuration, districts have reported a 91% decrease in server costs due to the ability to use PowerSchool on a centralized server and eliminate placement of multiple servers throughout the district.
PowerSchool is accessed via any standard web browser, is platform independent and fully customizable to fit individual district needs. It provides a secure solution to student data management for over 3,000 schools ranging in size from small, single-school districts to the enterprise-size districts of 400,000+ students.
To find out more about Apple's PowerSchool student information system, call 888-470-0808 or email .

Michael Hoy is K-12 Development Executive, Southern California Education Group, Apple Computer Inc. He may be reached at (949) 361-0782 or by email at .