Central Community High School District 71 began its search for a new student information system in the fall of 2013, after realizing its current antiquated system was not meeting the district’s needs. With an SIS ill-equipped for the modern day school district, administrators at the Breese, Illinois high school were ready to make a change. Following demonstrations and meetings with contending vendors, CCHSD 71 made a pivotal, first-of-its-kind decision.
“Our previous student management software was very outdated and was not providing some of the modern attributes for our staff, students, and community that are required today,” explained Kevin Meyer, superintendent at Central Community High School. “It simply was not sufficient and we had postponed adopting a new direction for too long.”
The district selected a cross-section of its staff to serve on a committee that studied all forms and types of SIS packages. The committee included certified teachers, non-certified office personnel and administrators. “We reviewed all types of systems without regard to expense or financial obligations,” Meyer said.
Central Community previewed demonstrations of Skyward's SMS 2.0 solution and administrators' interest was piqued. After several conversations, the district committee decided to look at the same provider’s newest system. Following further discussion, a proposal was accepted, and Central Community’s SIS search came to a close.
"QMLATIV TRULY IS A SYSTEM THROUGH WHICH YOU CAN RUN YOUR SCHOOL IN ALL FORMS AND FASHIONS IN AN EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT MANNER."
The district became the first beta site to adopt Skyward’s latest SIS technology: Qmlativ Student Management Suite. “Skyward ended up being the system of choice,” Meyer explained. The new model of SIS technology had been in the making since 2012, but finding a district partner willing to take a test drive was key for the solution’s development.
As the first site transitioning to Skyward’s Qmlativ SIS, the district was involved in suggesting enhancements and providing feedback on the solution. “The Qmlativ system appeared to have the most user-friendly components and showed the capability of being a system-wide program,” Meyer said. Although it would require some heavy lifting from the district, administrators were excited about the opportunity to help develop cutting-edge technology.
“It had the best alternatives for students and parents and provided a beta development program, which led to cost savings for our district and the capability of being involved in developmental aspects of a new program for our staff,” Meyer said. “We felt, although demanding, it offered us the best option at a more long-term solution with more ‘custom’ options for
"I CAN HONESTLY SAY THAT OF ALL THE VENDORS AND PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIPS I HAVE HAD IN MY YEARS IN ADMINISTRATION, THIS HAS BEEN ONE OF THE MOST POSITIVE."
21st century SIS technology
Compared to the district’s previous outdated software, Meyer said Qmlativ is far more advanced. The new solution gives the district additional capabilities for managing its student information. “Since we did not have a current system and made no change for many years, the Qmlativ system has been a ‘light years ahead’ type of advancement,” Meyer said. “The positive features that have come from this for us are immeasurable and beneficial for our district.”
The advanced solution brought many key functions into the 21st century, including the district’s grading and attendance systems. “Qmlativ has given us many more real-time SIS components and a more complete view of student and school management,” Meyer explained. “Overall, Qmlativ truly is a system through which you can run your school in all forms and fashions in an effective and efficient manner.”
Qmlativ also gives the district’s office staff more effective tools for managing operations and allows for greater ability in communicating with and providing information to parents and students. “Our students and parents have access to all sorts of information, which makes them a partner in the success of our students,” he added.
Customization and engagement gains
Meyer appreciates the increase in customization and engagement the district has experienced as a beta site. Staff members are able to shape the technology that will soon assist other districts like Central Community. “We are seeing the benefits of customization and efficiency in operations that Qmlativ has provided, which will help other districts in the future,” he said.
Parents and students within the district community are also becoming more engaged and proactive in the learning process. “The input from parents and students has been overwhelming,” Meyer said. “Parents now have access to information and are receiving notifications that are helpful to them. Students like the improved access they have to grades and
As a Qmlativ beta site, Central Community High School has enjoyed helping Skyward further enhance the new SIS. “There has been give-and-take with the people at Skyward in customization on most items,” Meyer explained. “We have had a tremendous amount of input into development of the system – even more than we could have imagined.”
A productive partnership
Central Community High School’s SIS choice resulted in a positive working experience throughout the adoption of Qmlativ. The district staff has developed strong, successful relationships with several Skyward team members. “All representatives have been flexible, cooperative, and great to work with in all respects,” Meyer said. We have found it to be a professional and productive experience.”
The support from Skyward’s team of technology experts has been timely and often immediate when a response to a question is needed. Central Community has not been disappointed by Skyward’s direct commitment and total dedication to the implementation process.
“I can honestly say that of all the vendors and professional relationships that I have had in my years in administration, this has been one of the most positive,” Meyer added.
"I THINK SKYWARD IS THE MOST ADVANCED STUDENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM AVAILABLE AT THIS TIME."
The district looks forward to using additional features of Qmlativ, like its disciplinary management application. Administrators are currently working to provide students, parents, teachers and staff with a future-ready learning environment. “I think Skyward is the most advanced student management system available at this time,” Meyer said. “The Qmlativ project will do nothing but enhance it.”
Meyer emphasized that Central Community High School is becoming well positioned to support its students and stakeholders in the ever-changing education environment. “The integration that Qmlativ provides and the effective partnership it can promote among staff and between school and community is very modern and in tune with how the world of today works,” he added.
Although the district faced some challenges and initial growing pains at the start of its transition, Meyer and Central Community High School administrators know the results to date are well worth it. “We knew that it would be tremendously challenging,” he said. “It was tough to deal with constant adaptation and change.”
Meyer likened the initial changeover experience to being in water without knowing how to swim yet. Thankfully, for the district and its stakeholders, Central Community is now more confident in the deep end of the pool.
“Now that we are crawling out of the other side of the pool, so to speak, Qmlativ has resulted in a great system with all of the features we anticipated – and more – that are very unique to the demands for our school community,” Meyer explained. “Our teachers are now dedicated to Qmlativ’s strength and preservation. All in all, the overall result has been very positive.”
Follow-up resource: Qmlativ Portal
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