Clifton Park, New York
Shenendehowa Central School District, located in New York State’s Capital District, needed a data management system for its 12 schools that could keep pace with changes in educational accountability requirements, increase teacher effectiveness and improve student learning practices through data analysis. Since 2006, Shenendehowa has used Infinite Campus to support decisions made throughout the district and within the classroom.
For nearly twenty years, Shenendehowa used a DOS-based legacy system created by a consortium of districts to manage district data needs. Not only was the quantity and quality of the information strictly limited by the parameters of the system, but a specialized staff was required to generate paper reports.
Describing their previous student information system (SIS), Robert W. Melia, Shenendehowa Assistant Superintendent for Management Services and Quality Control, said, “Virtually no data was electronically exportable. The reports that were available were limited in scope and presentation. We were unable to keep pace with new state and federal data reporting requirements.”
In a data-rich world, reporting accountability creates new challenges for educators. Shenendehowa personnel must analyze volumes of information and generate a variety of accurate and timely reports including NCLB, New York’s Grade 3 through 8 testing program and the Regent’s Exams. The legacy system made this difficult. Because Infinite Campus is a Web-based, integrated solution, it allows Shenendehowa staff to gather, analyze data and produce reports with a key stroke.
Apart from the necessary reports to state and national educational systems, Shenendehowa teachers and administrators find opportunities for improving their student’s learning experience and streamlining administrative operations.
“Because virtually all information is accessible in a canned report, ad hoc filter or a cube, Infinite Campus provides our staff with a wide range of data gathering and analysis options,” said Melia. “We are able to easily understand attendance trends, monitor student discipline patterns, evaluate student health data, control class size and adjust curriculum from scores on local, state and national assessments.”
Recently formed district teams analyze and evaluate data from sources such as national, state and school assessments to examine evidence of student learning. After thorough analysis, district decisions on goals, objectives, and action plans are communicated to the schools. A data analysis calendar is created to identify who, when, and how data will be evaluated in each school and an action plan is finalized by the end of October.
The newly created school-based data teams, together with academic departments, building teams and grade level staff will conduct a monthly review of student success to target areas for reinforcement and consistent practice. Schools examine multiple measures of data such as grades, behavior, attendance and common assessments and give district-wide updates on how they are meeting goals.
“In an effort to improve student success in our classrooms, we must create data literacy for each individual,” said Melia. “Collectively, we then create a data culture for our grade levels, teams, departments and schools.”
Melia believes Shenendehowa’s successes are important to the educational community. So, he shared his vision of effective data analysis at New York conferences such as the School Administrators Association of New York (SAANYS) and the Data Analysis Technical Assistance Group (DATAG).
Addressing the importance of Infinite Campus functionality, Melia said, “Minimally, data can help us sharpen our focus, assign or reassign our resources and improve our communication. The end result will be an identified set of best practices, insight into where gaps in learning and curriculum exist and opportunities to design plans to help students be successful in our increasingly interdependent world.”
Melia sees a successful future for Shenendehowa and its partnership with Campus. His vision is demonstrated in his presentation, Learning Cycle for Student Success, highlights using data to inform instruction, curriculum design, assessment and a focus on professional development for continuous improvement in their schools.
Describing the potential of this vision, Melia said, “The creation of a data culture, in conjunction with Infinite Campus, places us on the cusp of using all of our incredible talents and resources in a more focused and organized way which will provide opportunity and success for our students.”