When I began this project I was really unsure of the direction I wanted to take. This project seemed so vast and hard to pin down because it was so open. I thought about utilizing tools like Twitter in my teaching, but it seemed so inauthentic because it is just one aspect of my teaching, and to be honest, I really don’t like Twitter all that much.
So, I started thinking about what I do during the day. As I was running through my daily routine, I stopped. There was one thing that had been coming up over and over again: the way I input data. So, I began reflecting on PowerSchool and our division’s relationship with it. I started to do some digging. I discovered that although PowerSchool had started as a Pearson subsidiary, Pearson began selling off assets and PowerSchool was one of them. I was surprised to learn that even though PowerSchool had become ostensibly its own company, it still had a parent. This parent worried me, as its key drive is acquiring data management software and not just educational software.
From there, I examined potential alternatives. I sent out exploratory emails requesting information about pricing, indicating I was writing a paper about alternative platforms. The company that got back to me that fastest and was entire honest about their ability to provide information was Alma. The one company that never did respond was PowerSchool, despite repeated attempts. That to me solidified my project as finding a new SIS.
I knew, from experience, the massive project it is to implement a new SIS and the amount of groundwork that needs to be laid in order to make the transition as smooth as possible. Because I was a brand new teacher when PowerSchool came to my division, I was easily able to switch over because I didn’t have much experience with SIRS. However, I witnessed the frustration and anger with which my colleagues met this change. Teachers with one or two years left before retirement were resentful of having to learn a brand new system for a year or two. This system was also entirely online and that made several teachers unfamiliar with cloud computing uncomfortable. The learning process for this roll out was huge.
Because of this experience, I knew that if Regina Public ever went into a new SIS that major consultation should take place. Fortunately, the change would only be in a software, not an entire sea change in how we manage student information.
I am fully aware of my position within the leadership environment and in this economic climate. I know that a change like this is entirely unfeasible at this time as we struggle just to pay enough teachers. However, it is my hope one day that I can propose a change such as this to people who do have power to implement this. I believe I have a strong reason for this change, as impractical in the short term it seems.
This project has opened my eyes to alternative ways of looking at student data and knowing that PowerSchool does not have a monopoly, that there are several companies out there that offer just as good, if not a better solution.