Daily Times (Primos, PA)
Chichester School District adding two new programs
Record- keeping system and offerings for cyberschool set to save district money.
UPPER CHICHESTER — Chichester School District officials will implement two new programs designed to streamline student recordkeeping and enhance its cyberschool offerings.
School board members voted at the board’s last business meeting to purchase a Powerschool Student Information Management System, saying that it will help teachers, parents and students keep track of every aspect of student learning, from attendance to grades to curriculum.
“( The program) will better integrate our various data systems and allow us to much more quickly assess and improve student instruction,” board president Howard Adams said. “ It also has a much more robust, and near real-time, attendance feature, along with a much improved parent portal.”
Designed by Pearson Corporation, the program will upgrade the systems the district currently uses, according to assistant superintendent Kathy Sherman.
“ Currently, we have curriculum data on one platform, student performance on another, and so on, and none of these systems ‘ talk’ to each other,” Sherman said. “ With Powerschool, the minute we make any changes, the system is updated in real time. If a student is absent, the minute his first-period teacher puts the information into the system, the second-period teacher can look it up, and more importantly, the parent can access it as well.”
Sherman said the program will track student performance, attendance and curriculum at all grade levels.
“ You can go back and see how a 10th-grader performed in fourth grade, for example,” she said, noting that looking up such information using the district’s current system requires looking through paper files. “ Powerschool is faster and more efficient, and with schools becoming so data-driven these days, it’s a much better way to put together student data.”
The program will also allow the district to track student performance on Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, MAP and other standardized tests, and to generate charts and graphs to allow administrators to use the data in a meaningful way.
The program will cost the district $ 124,269, which will be paid for using Chichester’s technology budget. Sherman said the district expects the program to pay for itself within five years.
“ In two years, we expect to break even, and in five years, we expect to be saving the district $ 200,000,” she said.
Also at the June business meeting, school board members announced an agreement with Pearson Virtual Learning to offer a cyberschool option for district students.
“ We are quite excited about this, as we hope to be able to bring some students back to Chichester who are currently being served by other entities,” Adams said.
Sherman said the cyberschool offerings would give students more flexibility in scheduling their course loads.
“ You might have a young mother who wants to go to school, or you might have a student who plays a sport and is traveling on a regular basis, and this allows them to take those courses on their own time,” she said. “ There are also enhanced ‘ blended learning’ opportunities. If you want to take a Chinese language course and the brick-and-mortar school doesn’t offer it, you can take it online. If you want to take all of your classes online but like to take art classes at the brick-and-mortar school, you can do that.”
Sherman said students who attend the district’s cyberschool will be able to graduate with a Chichester High School diploma, and the district expects the “ blended learning” concept to be available to students within two to five years.