Topic Thread

Expand all | Collapse all

Input on SIS Products

  • 1.  Input on SIS Products

    Posted 6 days ago
    Alabama is one of the few states that has a state wide SIS.  Our long-time state contract is expiring and we are looking to select a new SIS to implement for 2020 with pilot districts coming on board next fall.

    After soliciting RFPs, we are down to two vendors.  If you are familiar with both or one of these products, at the state or district level,  I would appreciate your input as I am on the selection committee and want to gather as much information as possible.

    The two products are...
    A) Power School
    B) Infinite Campus

    ------------------------------
    Donna Williamson
    Director of Technology
    Mountain Brook City Board of Education
    Mountain Brook AL
    (205) 871-4608
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Input on SIS Products

    Posted 5 days ago
    Hi Donna,

    I can speak to PowerSchool's strengths and weaknesses, as I have been using it since 2005 in both small and medium districts.
    I also use Infinite Campus as a parent user only.

    Strengths:
    •  THE most common SIS, so there are a lot of other products that connect with it. We consider the SIS to be the "heart" of our student data, and data flows from the SIS out to dozens of other tools. I run into many products that will not connect with anything except PowerSchool.
    •  Strong user community, processes, and conferences - the strength of PowerSchool is partly in its community.
    •  The new one-to-many Contact Manager is great and turns what was one of its strongest weaknesses into a strength.
    •  Ditto for the web-based gradebook, PowerTeacher Pro. 
    •  They have a developer APIs for 3rd party plug-ins.
    •  PowerScheduler is both a strength and a weakness - the strength is that it is one of the best available and it does the job well. The weakness is that they have not changed or improved the UI in this tool in all the years I've been using it … while it does work, it requires so many clicks to do every little process. Every time I use it, it is clear to me how they could pretty easily make it a much more efficient tool for a tedious task.
    Weaknesses:
    •  IMO, PowerSchool needs to get on board with true HTML5-style design, as it is not truly mobile-friendly. There is a mobile app, but it doesn't have all of the features of the web-based version, which isn't truly mobile friendly / responsive designed - for example, not everything available in the web-based parent portal is available in the mobile app. (This is also a weakness of Infinite Campus, as well.) These SIS' are years behind the curve on their UI design :-(
    •  PS is not as flexible with standards and competencies as we would like; however, New Hampshire is very forward-thinking in this area and we may have overly high expectations. We are comparing it to tools like JumpRope and Empower and even Google Classroom.
    •  A number of plug-ins and add-ons are needed to make PS strong, such as the wonderful tools from Marcia Brenner Associates. Fortunately, these are not expensive.

    I have an 8th grade student in a PowerSchool school and a freshman in an Infinite Campus school, and the apps are pretty similar in function from the parent perspective. I would say that PS' app has a better design, visually. IC's app looks more clunky.

    Pam

    ------------------------------
    Pam McLeod
    Technology Director
    Concord School District
    Concord NH
    (603) 225-0811
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Input on SIS Products

    Posted 5 days ago

    Donna
    We have used PowerSchool since the 2003 school year. We have been very happy with the ability to customize the system to meet our specific needs. If you have specific questions you can reach out to me.
    Ron

    ------------------------------
    Ronald Cone
    Kennewick School District
    Kennewick WA
    (509) 222-5173
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Input on SIS Products

    Posted 3 days ago
    Thank you to everyone who has responded.  We may be reaching out to some of you for more details.  The information is very helpful.
    Donna

    ------------------------------
    Donna Williamson
    Director of Technology
    Mountain Brook City Board of Education
    Mountain Brook AL
    (205) 871-4608
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Input on SIS Products

    Posted 5 days ago

    I can echo Pam's comments. I think she is spot on regarding the comments of both platforms.

    I've used PowerSchool since 2003 in two districts. Georgia is about 1/3 PS and 2/3 IC.

    There is a lot of flexibility for customizations in PowerSchool.   Also PowerSchool since 2015 has made some key acquisitions to broaden their offerings to the K12 sector.  I think the product with their API has a greater ability to bolt on 3rd party applications.  I'm not sure you have the same flexibility with IC.

    Hope those few things help.

    Best of luck!

    Roman 



    ------------------------------
    Roman Gaddis
    Executive Director of Technology
    Dawson County Board of Education
    Dawsonville GA
    (706) 265-3246 (1032)
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Input on SIS Products

    Posted 4 days ago
    Donna,

    I will also add that Alma is getting a lot of buzz in our state - is there a reason why it did not make it to the top of your list there?

    Pam

    ------------------------------
    Pam McLeod
    Technology Director
    Concord School District
    Concord NH
    (603) 225-0811
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Input on SIS Products

    Posted 3 days ago
    Good morning:

    We were on PowerSchool last school year and transitioned to Infinite Campus for this current school year. The most important and beneficial changes for our district, though, came from the core structure and functionality of the system. Here are a few examples:

     

    • The database structure of the Infinite Campus system is designed to minimize data redundancy (thus, eliminate repeat data and lowering the occurrence of errors or irregularities)
    • Exporting data out of the system is more efficient, intuitive, and straightforward
    • Data can be captured from any point in time, allowing us to look at historical data or a past snapshot in time.
    • Scheduling for secondary schools is much more powerful.
    • Increased flexibility to handle standards-aligned grading and reporting.
    • Being able to handle summer school activities in Infinite Campus.
    • Online registration capabilities are more robust and can be conducted sooner.
    • Operations for the next school year can be conducted on an ongoing basis, rather than needing to wait for the annual rollover to happen.
    • The system can handle multiple enrollments for students in different schools/programs – all within a student's centralized record.
    • The system will be hosted on-site, with all updates and maintenance handled by Infinite Campus – giving us full flexibility in how the system is customized to meet our needs.
    • There is a robust network of support with similar districts, along with an active user group community, in Iowa for us to build support and best-practice relationships with.
    While there is no student information system that is perfect it was determined that Infinite Campus was better suited to service the district.  In all fairness there are some features that PowerSchool does better then Infinite Campus but that is to be expected as each product has it strengths and its share of challenges. Additionally, Infinite Campus serves more districts in the State of Iowa then what PowerSchool does.

    ------------------------------
    Coby Culbertson
    Director of Technology
    Dubuque Community Schools
    Dubuque IA
    (563) 552-3049
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Input on SIS Products

    Posted 3 days ago
    Good morning;

    I agree with some of the remarks about Power School and Infinite Campus.  For those who have responded it may also help to add if you are on the PS Hosted solution.  As most of you know, Power School is no longer a Pearson product and has gone through some significant changes.  Shelby County Schools in Memphis transitioned to the hosted solution two years ago.  We are a District of over 100,000 so our experiences may be different from others.  I believe that we should use our CoSN power to make SIS vendors be more responsive to our needs.  We should not have to settle for what is being sold versus what we need the system to do.

    ------------------------------
    John Williams
    Chief Information Officer
    Shelby County Schools
    Memphis TN
    (901) 416-0266
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Input on SIS Products

    Posted yesterday
    We have been a Powerschool customer since 2009 or 2010. Overall we have been pretty happy with the product and its ability to allow for customizations and the flexibility to meet our needs. In the last two years I have become a bit worried about the focus on the core product. It is starting to feel that the company is putting the majority of their resources into the acquisitions they are making and starting to lose focus on the core product. It is understandable to want to grow the business, but at the same time, they are constantly increasing costs and we are not seeing the dedication being put into the core product.

    We have also in the last couple of years purchased the online registration modules to add on to the system. They are extremely buggy and the end user experience for our staff has been really poor. Constant problems will likely have us looking to other third party providers for this functionality soon, so at this time, be weary of the entire product line as a solution as they are still very separate and disparate products that may not work well together yet.

    Personal opinion is they grew too quickly and it is going to take a few years to get all these product lines cleaned up and it may be messy for a while until they do that. It still is one of the best SIS products on the market (I'm personally intrigued by Alma as well) and everyone else's points above are quite valid. Feel free to reach out if you would like any more information.

    ------------------------------
    Kris Hagel
    Chief Information Officer
    Peninsula School District
    Gig Harbor WA
    (253) 530-3701
    @krishagel
    ------------------------------