Will your SIS be Future Ready by 2020?

If you travelled backward a dozen years, your district’s Student Information System would shrink back to its original form: a standard database focused squarely on compliance reporting. If we hopped forward to 2020, what new and impactful things would a SIS of the future be doing for your school community?

As Student Information Systems evolve, students are undergoing a transformation from flat database nodes into connected, active participants. 


Beyond just watching their grades, students might now be using their SIS to complete tech-enhanced homework, submit course requests, and collaborate with teachers and peers. Parents may be enrolling their kids online, or monitoring attendance and behavior from their smartphones.

Is every SIS becoming a hub of student interactivity and agency? Not necessarily. Some providers have pivoted their platforms toward HR management or payroll. Others stayed in the comfort zone of record-keeping, causing their districts to shop around for supplemental systems.

Can a Student Information System provider be considered “Future Ready” if they aren't student-focused? Will providing a “whole child” view of achievement be critical for SIS products in the future?

To answers these questions, we looked at perhaps the best collective vision of what the future could look like: NJ’s Future Ready Schools indicators, co-developed by hundreds of K-12 collaborators.

Which Future Ready Indicators Should Your SIS Support?

We performed a comprehensive review of NJ Future Ready’s seven gears and 50 indicators, organized in three themes; leadership, education and classroom practice, and technology support and services.

We found that OnCourse provided direct or indirect support for about 50% of these indicators, giving OnCourse districts a big head-start on their certification efforts. The OnCourse SIS alone supported a significant portion, but it was the integration of key upgrades like Analytics and Assessment that formed the most meaningful connections.

Learn more at NJSBA Workshop 2018 - visit OnCourse at Booth 804 (across from Future Ready NJ)

Here are some ways OnCourse can help you score high points on Priority 1 Future Ready indicators.

Priority 1 Indicator: Collaborative Leadership Gear

The task force emphasizes that “a culture of innovation involves trust,” and invites schools to create more opportunities for trial-and-error and experimentation. Good experimentation must have space and time to develop, but also requires patient and accurate monitoring. This is why the task force encourages schools to “use data to establish a narrative of the organizational culture” and to “conduct formative assessment/evaluation.”

After all, trust begins with sharing common understandings. Accurate, widely-accessible baseline data can be a crucial foundation from which to launch new initiatives in areas that need the most attention.


For evidence of this indicator, OnCourse encourages districts to use Analytics (shown above) to baseline a wide range of indicators like chronic absenteeism, grade distribution, test scores, behavior trends, and parent engagement. These can provide powerful clarifying support to narratives collected via staff surveys (also suggested by the task force.)

If formative data becomes necessary to monitor academic initiatives, use Assessment to design and deploy tech-enhanced exercises that students can complete through their OnCourse Connect portal and generate longitudinal data instantly.


This data is extremely useful for school leaders comparing student growth across classrooms, and also for teachers who get instant item analysis and proficiency reports to use for differentiating instruction.

Priority 1 Indicator: Data and Privacy Gear

Your Student Information System has become a vault of the most sensitive data imaginable. A breach can be catastrophic (and often newsworthy), which is why securing access is one of the most critical missions of every school district.

To support the task force's recommendations, OnCourse offers an extensive security, backup, and disaster recovery portfolio, which includes:

  • Routine penetration testing of web applications and network/infrastructure (using (OWASP and NIST standards) that simulate external attackers and compromised internal accounts
  • Advanced, multiple firewalls providing intrusion detection systems, antivirus, and DDoS mitigation
  • Access control with sophisticated user permissions, password strengthening measures, and automatic timeout
  • Multiple redundant infrastructure for all components including the database to ensure maximum uptime

Priority 1 Indicator: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Gear

Students are entering a world where they will be expected to work independently and adapt swiftly to using a variety of digital tools. Schools should open them to that world.

OnCourse continues to grow its Student Information System to offer opportunities for student interaction and task management.


While there are many LMS-style tools available, they are often in their own silo and require teachers to spend time managing rosters and shuttling grades between programs. OnCourse offers a Classroom upgrade that transforms the traditional "grade portal" into a digital environment where students can take tech-enhanced assessments, link to their Google drive, and share resources with classmates

This is also a brilliant blended learning tool, allowing teachers to post videos, digital resources, and interactive exercises for students, and return flash feedback automatically.


Want a complete list of supported Future Ready indicators?

If you are interested in a comprehensive list of the indicators where OnCourse can help, contact us at info@oncoursesystems.com (Already Future Ready certified? This list can help you achieve the next level of Future Ready certification.)