Wilson County Schools trusts Skyward’s online enrollment tool to successfully register nearly 20,000 students annually
For staff who are responsible for nearly 20,000 students across 25 schools, getting ready for the first day is no easy task. Aside from attending back-to-school meetings, fielding phone calls, and scrambling with last-minute tasks, the district office also needs to ensure that each student is properly registered. Without a streamlined process, frustration is bound to build.
Wilson County Schools in Lebanon, TN, about 30 minutes east of Nashville, began using Skyward’s New Student Online Enrollment (NSOE)
tool in 2015. Susan Dean, district coordinator, credits NSOE with simplifying their enrollment process, easing the strain on families and administrators to allow more time for other district initiatives.
"Skyward's professional development options are great and having a customer success rep come and train us on the new system was priceless."
Curing a headache for parents and staff
Prior to implementing NSOE, enrollment at Wilson County Schools was very tedious.
“The entire process consisted of paper forms and being in-person to complete,” said Dean.
At the start of the school year, the district had to coordinate registration days for parents to physically come into each school and fill out the necessary paperwork for each student they were enrolling.
“Parents would have to take time off work, waste time waiting in lines, then manually fill out packets full of forms,” said Dean. “Many times, they would need to return a second day if they didn’t have all of the required documents ready.”
This process wasn’t just excruciating for the parents; district registrars felt the burden as well.
“On registration day, each school would have dedicated employees to help parents and make copies of required forms,” said Dean. “Then, even after the parent’s portion was over, each registration form would have to be manually entered into our SIS. This took a long time, and sometimes the handwritten forms were difficult to read.”
It was critical for this large district to have a faster, more streamlined registration and enrollment process.
"We have been able to keep our enrollment process seamless and almost 100% paperless,"
Creating a better enrollment experience
To create a better enrollment experience for families and registrars, Wilson County Schools decided to implement Skyward’s NSOE tool in spring of 2015, going live for the 2015-2016 school year.
“We wanted enrollment time to be less stressful for everyone involved,” said Dean.
In order to get staff comfortable with using NSOE, Wilson County Schools employed Skyward’s Professional Development Center
, along with on-site trainers.
“Skyward’s professional development options are great and having a customer success rep come and train us on the new system was priceless,” said Dean. “After coming from a company where support wasn’t great, I can safely say that I don’t believe there is better customer service than Skyward. The support and training options we have in Skyward help our district immensely.”
To communicate the new tool to parents, the district posted instructions on the district and school websites. Once a parent submitted the form online, they were directed back to the school website to sign up for next steps.
“At first, the parents would need to sign up for a specific time to come in with their required documents,” said Dean. “Although this cut down on lines, it still required someone to physically come into the building. Now parents can upload all their documents, so we no longer require this step.
As with any new process, there was a little bit of pushback.
“Not all parents had email addresses, and many weren’t familiar with online processes,” said Dean. “Parents who needed help could come in for specified lab times with the registrar or dedicated school personnel.”
After having time to adjust to the new system, families have enjoyed the convenience of NSOE.
“It really didn’t take long to get parents on board,” said Dean. “They love that they can complete the enrollment process from anywhere. For students transferring from other states, getting enrolled in a new school is one thing they can check off their list before they even get here.”
"Skyward is also a fantastic company to work with. You can tell that they care about their customer relationships, which I think speaks volumes."
Significant and quantifiable results
Although Wilson County Schools saw a great value in NSOE prior to the pandemic, COVID-19 made the value even more apparent.
“We have been able to keep our enrollment process seamless and almost 100% paperless,” said Dean. “Families were able to enroll from home, and school registrars could do their jobs from home to set up students with virtual or hybrid classes without having to enter the office. If we didn’t have NSOE in place, students would have been delayed in starting school.”
In addition to improving enrollment, using NSOE has also increased parent engagement at Wilson County Schools. Since parents are already required to use Family Access
for enrollment and registration, the district has seen a significant uptick in its year-round use. This tool gives parents a whole-child view of their students’ progress, intervention, and aspirations.
“Prior to using NSOE, only 25% of parents accessed Family Access,” said Dean. “Now, at least 95% of parents utilize it.”
Students at the district now have the option to use Family Access for grades, online tests and assignments, and class/district news.
“We don’t have this option open for our K-5 students yet, but 100% of 6-12 students use Family Access daily,” said Dean.
Since NSOE has already made such a large impact on the district by requiring and encouraging families to use Family Access, Wilson County Schools is looking forward to discovering more ways to use the portal to achieve additional district goals.
“I would love to have time to expand on Family Access, such as adding district and Skyward FAQs and relaying other important information,” said Dean. “We require most things involving parents and students to be done through Skyward now, but we’re always looking for ways to improve their experience.”
For those who are considering NSOE for their district, Dean says, “I highly recommend NSOE—it has been a major time-saver for registrars and parents. Skyward is also a fantastic company to work with. You can tell that they care about their customer relationships, which I think speaks volumes”