- Public school district educating students in Bucks County, a historic area in northeast Pennsylvania. The district prides itself on blending “the past with the present to meet the challenge of the future.”
- Approximately 950 faculty and staff serve approximately 11,700 students at 15 schools, including 10 elementary schools, three middle schools, and two high schools.
- An eSchoolPLUS customer since 2008, Council Rock School District volunteered to serve as a Beta district to test the eSchoolPLUS Admin Mobile Application and advise SunGard K-12 Education on its development.
Access to student information is essential for school administrators, who need to be on the go in support of student achievement and district activities.
Seeing possibilities for its administrators, Council Rock School District was one of the first districts to offer its administrators the eSchoolPLUS Admin Mobile Application, which provides anytime, anywhere access to student data and important district processes.
Council Rock School District's Story of Success
School administrators are expected to be on the go in support of student achievement. So, it’s important that they be able to access student information wherever they are, says Barry Desko, director of secondary education for Council Rock School District in Bucks County, Pa.
“There is just so much information out there that everybody expects administrators to have immediate access to,” says Desko. “I don’t think it’s acceptable any more to have a need to contact a parent or guardian and not to be able to make that call at a moment’s notice. Or, if you come across a student in the hallway, immediately knowing if that student is one of yours, where he should be, and obtaining some basic information is essential. And, once you’re off-site, you can’t afford not to be able to access students’ demographic information.”
The eSchoolPLUS Admin Mobile App puts important student information at administrators’ fingertips via their iPhone®, iPad®, or iPod touch®; Android™ device; or Kindle Fire. The app’s intuitive touch interface connects administrators with student schedules, attendance, medical records, emergency contact information, and other essential data. It also facilitates anytime, anywhere access to the discipline referral process, as well as communications with district staff and student contacts.
Administrators on the Move
The need for instant access previously created a dilemma for Council Rock administrators. “Of course, all of that information is accessible from my office. But, we don’t want administrators sitting at their desks,” he says. “So although we’re encouraging administrators to be out and about, they need to know a student’s demographic information, grades, attendance, and discipline history in order to do the important work they have to do.”
Desko says the eSchoolPLUS Admin Mobile App unchains administrators from their desktop by putting that key information right at their fingertips, wherever they are. “Now, they can do all that on the go. They don’t have to be sitting at their desk, accessing eSchoolPLUS,” he explains. “They can be walking down a hallway or sitting in the cafeteria and still have access to all of that same data.”
With the convenient offline mode, student information is available even when a wireless connection is not. The eSchoolPLUS Admin Mobile App synchronizes basic information to local devices, secures it, and then makes it available when administrators are not connected—such as on field trips, at athletic events, or during school emergencies.
Ease of Use Right Out of the Box
Ric Cargas, the district’s database and information systems manager, says it was easy to bring administrators up to speed on the eSchoolPLUS Admin Mobile App.
“Right out of the box, it was easy to use,” he says. “We even talked about how we were going to train our administrators to use this app, and it turned out that it wasn’t necessary at all. They were off and running with little to no training.”
Throughout Beta testing, Council Rock and the other districts made suggestions that improved the functionality of the app and made it easier for administrators to use. For example, at the request of one of the Beta districts, SunGard K-12 Education provided screen overlays, which appear the first time each of the mobile app’s pages are opened.
Creating Possibilities for the Future
Desko said Council Rock administrators immediately saw possibilities for using the eSchoolPLUS Admin Mobile App in their work.
“At the time we began using the mobile app, we were printing demographic and emergency information and keeping it in folders so administrators had immediate access to it off-site,” explains Desko. “For example, during a building evacuation, administrators had to grab hard copies so they had access to student information they would need to make all the appropriate contacts if they couldn’t get back in the building. That also went for field trips, athletic contests, proms, or other off-site events. Everything was being done on some hard-copy system—whether coaches were writing down and keeping file cards or we were printing demographic emergency contact forms and distributing them.”
Desko says the need for easy access to real-time demographic and emergency information was one of the primary reasons that school administrators wanted mobile access. “Now, we can take our tablets or our smartphone with us, and we have the same and more information than we would have had on those hard copies.”
During the Beta, the district utilized the mobile app at its high school senior proms, both of which were held in Philadelphia. “Administrators would typically have had to accommodate all the emergency paperwork for all those students who were going to the dance,” says Desko. “That night, every one of the administrators had their mobile app up and running, and they didn’t need the paperwork.”
And for Desko, the eSchoolPLUS Admin Mobile App was invaluable during his one-on-one interactions with students and teachers. “It was helpful to be able to walk through a hallway and have data that I may want as I observed a class,” he says.
“In fact, when I was observing classes at the high school, I opened up the mobile app, saw the student’s picture, pulled up information during our conversation, and got a sense of what the student was sharing and how he/she was doing in that class, just to give me some perspective.”
As the future unfolds, Desko anticipates that the eSchoolPLUS Admin Mobile App will become even more useful. “Its applications will probably grow as folks get a better sense of its uses,” he says. “They’ll probably come up with different ways of using the system that we haven’t even thought of yet.”
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