Alachua County Public Schools

Sandy Hollinger 
Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum and Student Support Services
Gainesville, Florida
27,000 Students

We are excited about the opportunities this presents for the years to come.

Sandy Hollinger

Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum and Student Support Services
Alachua County Public Schools
Gainesville, Florida

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Alachua Succeeds at Improving Instructional Decision Making
Alachua County Public Schools in Gainesville, Florida, was determined to be proactive in using data for transparency and accountability in the classroom. It had been using a mainframe system (CICS) that began as a state system 25 years ago, and Alachua knew it could not accommodate these aggressive goals. Using Infinite Campus for only a few months, Alachua has already experienced improved reporting and analysis, professional development and student achievement.

Making the Change
Although CICS was a relatively reliable system and evolved with a lot of necessary customization, it did not allow the district to gather outcomes from student data at the school site for instructional decision making. It was time to consider a new student information system (SIS).

“There were four priorities for us,” said Sandy Hollinger, Alachua’s Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum and Student Support Services. “We needed:

• A system that would allow us to integrate our student assessment data into a “user friendly” format for instructional decision making;
• A comprehensive system and “user friendly” system for administrative, instructional, and support staff;
• A system with opportunities to “grow” to meet our needs and adaptable to our unique requirements;
• A system with parental communication tools.”

Alachua reviewed six vendors and determined none of the systems generated as much excitement as Infinite Campus. It has the integrated, web-based system Alachua needs, and its a company with a strong focus on K12 education that understands the challenges in today’s environment.

“Infinite Campus goes beyond just collecting data for compliance reporting,” said Hollinger. “It will drive the future of instruction. That’s what we wanted for our district.”

Unique Implementation Team
Alachua had a unique organizational structure for implementing Infinite Campus. Its research and evaluation department, in the curriculum division, were the Campus Core Implementation Team. This included IT staff, former assistant principals, principals, instructional technology staff and elementary and secondary directors. Because the team was so familiar with how schools work, they were able to anticipate many of the schools’ needs for training. Being first in state was not only challenging but Florida’s state reporting requirements are extremely comprehensive and complex. Good communication between Infinite Campus and the district core team was of critical importance.

“Infinite Campus staff were good listeners and very responsive to our concerns,” said Hollinger. “As Florida has so many components to state reporting, we needed them to help us think “out of the box” in solving issues. They were excellent with the analysis of IT issues and more importantly, they were creative and flexible thinkers – not a quality usually associated with a student database vendor. They took the time to think through our issues thoroughly. That is a critical strength of the company. By the end of this very complex process, Alachua and Infinite Campus were blended into one team.”

Transparency and Accountability
“One of the highest priorities for Alachua was to use data to make sound instructional decisions in the classroom. The Infinite Campus reporting capabilities allowed them to accomplish this. Process and policy for change was clearly defined. Mandated review of school and district data every nine weeks demonstrated which classrooms were successful. This transparency of information drove instructional changes and professional development to better align with and support students.

“It is imperative that we see what’s working and what’s not,” said Hollinger. “A great teacher may not be able to articulate how they achieved success. Good data and analysis can help us understand that.”

Infinite Campus analysis tools are an integral part of the system to help users analyze transactional data in a multi-dimensional way for data-driven decisions. With more than 100 pre-built reports, and the ability to craft custom reports for specific district needs, Alachua can capture and analyze vast amounts of data. Through the data analysis interface, Alachua can produce graphical representations of the information such as pie charts, bar graphs, line graphing and table displays that are easily understood. In this way, adjustments to instruction can be made quickly.

“With Infinite Campus we can get a broad picture of what’s going on with students,” said Hollinger. “We ask our teachers to use the Infinite Campus reports as the foundation for collaborative dialogue so that all students are successful.

“For example, our Infinite Campus report data indicated that a higher number than expected of ninth grade students were failing  Algebra I. At the same time, our reports indicated that a number of teachers were being highly successful. On the basis of these reports, we organized school and district staff development where the successful teachers shared their strategies. Every Algebra I teacher brought their class data “to the table”  and all were involved in the outcome of decreasing failure rate. Using the Infinite Campus reports to “track” our formative assessment results has increased teacher engagement and improved student achievement.”

Data at the Desktop
Because Infinite Campus is web-based, it gives teachers access to the information they need, when they need it. 

“It was a real asset to have important student data available on the teacher’s desktop in real time. That allows the teacher to make good, informed decisions right there in the classroom,” said Hollinger. “One of the best features in Infinite Campus is the ability to get instant student information on one screen and the ability to use the reporting tools for easy accessibility.”

An Alachua reading coach agrees. “Infinite Campus helps us make better decisions regarding student placement because all our data is in one place.

Not Business as Usual
Using a forward-thinking system like Infinite Campus has required a culture shift for Alachua. Infinite Campus goes beyond merely collecting and managing data. It is used to impact teaching and learning in new ways.

“It’s time we use the advanced tools of technology to do more than gather data. It’s time we effectively use that information for improving education on a broader scale,” said Hollinger. “Infinite Campus has given us the opportunity to move beyond stagnant data collection and more toward helping our teachers and students succeed. We are excited about the opportunities this presents for the years to come."