Instead of looking at it as a district-level purchase, Infinite Campus could centralize South Dakota student data at the state level and manage it in one database.

For us to have that control over student data, to take a snapshot and do analysis, is a huge benefit.

Dr. Melody Schopp

Secretary of Education
South Dakota Department of Education

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142,193 Students on Infinite Campus

In 2001, Dr. Melody Schopp, now Secretary of Education, South Dakota Department of Education, was with the South Dakota Office of Technology working on the Digital Dakota Network project when her team was assigned to evaluate and purchase a district-level student information system (SIS). After seeing the statewide capabilities and the vision of Infinite Campus, the team selected it not only as their district-level system but as their statewide education management system.

The Digital Dakota Network (DDN) was the brainchild of Bill Janklow, former Governor of South Dakota. The project was an initiative to advance education, the economy and technology within South Dakota. The strategy behind DDN was to wire every public, private, Bureau of Indian Education and tribal K12 school building in the state with 50 or more students and connect the schools with the latest networking technologies. Schopp had been managing the teacher training initiative for the use of these technologies when the state Secretary of Education asked her to investigate a district-level SIS for the state’s schools.

Making the Decision
The thing that really impressed Schopp and the RFP advisory team was the vision of Infinite Campus for a statewide system. Instead of looking at it as a district-level purchase, Infinite Campus could centralize their student data at the state level and manage it in one database. Because of this opportunity, the RFP team began to consider a statewide SIS instead of the original concept of a district-level SIS. “Since we were a state with a small student population but a lot of geography, the vision of Infinite Campus made sense to us,” said Schopp. “In just under four months, we made the decision to purchase Infinite Campus and had our first four districts in the pilot program using the software.”

Unique Student IDs
All school districts in South Dakota have unique student identifiers (IDs) for their students assigned from the Infinite Campus State Edition (ICSE). ICSE is the centralized student information database in South Dakota.

The key to the statewide system is its ability to assign unique IDs. This ability eliminated the privacy concerns over using Social Security numbers and the variety of identifiers being used by districts throughout the state. Unique student IDs are assigned to an individual student, and the related data is then associated with the student throughout their K12 educational career – even if they move within a district or move from district-to-district within the state. When a student moves, the new school can simply look up the student in the statewide directory and the student’s records are transferred from the previous school along with their previously assigned unique ID. If the student is not found in the directory a new unique ID is instantly assigned. This process frees the new school from re-entering the student’s entire historical education record, reducing the duplication of student records for the state. Statewide data integrity is improved by eliminating the duplicate records, ensuring more accurate reporting. The unique student ID of each student is also recorded on their assessment test. The state then uses a simple matching process to compare the student’s classroom performance with their assessment test results to calculate adequate yearly progress (AYP).

“The unique student identifier has been absolutely critical to our success in reporting,” said Schopp. “Now we can track the individual student’s progress from the time they enter one of our schools until graduation, all the while understanding their assessment test scores at the individual level and making adjustments needed to help the student.”

State Reporting Time Significantly Reduced
All but three districts in South Dakota have implemented Infinite Campus District Edition (ICDE). The required information in ICDE automatically syncs to ICSE providing all the data needed for state reporting purposes in real time. The non-participating districts are required to either directly enter or upload required student data into ICSE. With the student data automatically flowing to ICSE, the need for districts to undertake additional state reporting is eliminated.

“It saved us dramatically on the amount of time and energy we need to expend for state reporting,” said Schopp. “I can’t imagine what other states are going through by not having a centralized database and trying to obtain accurate disaggregated data.”

Simplified Federal Reporting
Because of ICSE, South Dakota can see populations of students moving from place-to-place, make calculations on graduation rates and conduct analysis of any other data set without asking for the data from the districts since it is all housed at the state level.

“For us to have that control over student data, to take a snapshot and do analysis, is a huge benefit,” stated Schopp. “We implemented Infinite Campus one year prior to the enactment of NCLB and we were really lucky to have this capability built into our student information system.”
Prior to the implementation, the state DOE would receive floppy disks from each district and the DOE would have to verify the data, consolidate it into a central location and do the needed analysis for reporting. “Thinking back now, I don’t know how we did it,” stated Schopp. “Of course there wasn’t the high stakes like there is today with NCLB, but I cannot imagine sending in those disks, trying to match the data with test scores and then make accurate AYP calculations. From a state data professional’s perspective, the system has been a lifesaver.”

Schopp said, “Our small staff still has to perform the same federal reporting functions as any other state with more personnel, and Infinite Campus is the key to helping us do things other states are not capable of doing yet.”

“South Dakota recognizes that this module has the potential to provide a great deal of return on investment, cost savings and the efficient use of limited resources,” stated Schopp. “While the initial set up and training of this module has been daunting at times, we recognize in future years we stand to reap the rewards of a more streamlined, automated and accurate process for computing AYP.”

Individualized Education Plans
Following implementation, districts were allowed the option to use the individualized education plan (IEP) giving the special education professionals the ability to create plans, store any needed forms and create progress reports. The student’s team can be assigned and provided the appropriate rights for accessing the IEP whether they are guidance counselors, teachers, or administrators. Parents can also be included on the student’s team with the ability to view progress anytime via the Web-based Campus Parent Portal. Schopp continued, “Parents feel empowered by having their student’s information available and it has given our technology investment huge credibility within the state.”

About Infinite Campus State Edition
The Infinite Campus statewide student information system combines numerous data management functions into an integrated system for ease in managing state-level data access and reporting. Infinite Campus delivers a proven state department of education system, including unique student ID assignment, district-to-district student transfers and electronic transcripts.