The One Thing EVERY District Forgets When Evaluating a SIS

on January 12, 2017 in Student Information System

This school year I’ve been thankful to have many opportunities to meet with district leaders as they embarked on a major decision: changing Student Information Systems.  In almost every case, however, the committee has forgotten to bring one absolutely ESSENTIAL thing with them.  At a time when 65% of teachers are not satisfied with the tools and data they have access to, nailing this decision is critical.

This missing piece? The technology plan; ala, the district’s long-term vision.

For example:

  • Are you launching a 1:1 program?
  • Are you planning to emphasize data-driven instruction?
  • Are you implementing new digital formative assessments?

Chances are, your SIS provider may be a much bigger part of those projects than they ever have been.

Just as grade books and school scheduling programs were gobbled up into the SIS a decade ago, today there are signs that a wide range of instructional software (like Learning Management System, Data Warehousing, Assessment) will soon be a part of one unified platform.

For teachers’ sake, this may be the best possible scenario.  (Join a free webinar to learn more.)

However, if you choose a SIS provider that is misaligned to your goals, it will hamstring the success of these projects due to a phenomenon we call “ed-tech entropy.”


What is ed-tech entropy?  Every time the district has a new initiative, or a state requirement changes, schools take to the ed-tech marketplace to find a tool to help teachers manage. It lands on the sprawling heap of disparate software that teacher and students have to learn and weed through on a daily basis.

At a time when 86% of teachers are "very challenged/challenged" in managing their resources, giving TOO much technology can undo the benefits that technology is supposed to have on streamlining menial task and paperwork.

This erodes time and morale that could be better spent on impacting student outcomes. SIS vendors who truly care about student achievement, not just student data management, are making moves to resolve this increasingly dire issue.


When evaluating a SIS, boldly go beyond the “functional requirements checklist” and start thinking about the long-term plan. Give the vendor a chance to show you their willingness to partner with your district on meaningful goals by asking:

  • What’s your company’s roadmap for the next few years?
  • How does that align with our district’s goals?
  • How will you support us in achieving those goals?

If capturing the rewards of data-driven decision making is on your plan, OnCourse is ecstatic to be among the first SIS providers in the nation to offer “K-12 Data Visualization”. This new technology automatically translates all of your district’s data into colorful, infographic-style charts, making it more approachable for almost everyone. OnCourse Analytics will be released in Q1 2017.

OnCourse is also the first SIS in its region to provide a complete Learning Management System in OnCourse Classroom, an integrated solution for optimizing your 1:1 program and make the student experience more interactive and convenient.

As you make this decision, don’t forget to find out what your SIS has cooking. Chances are, your teachers will be eating it soon!

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