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What is Student Management Software?

Updated on August 2, 2012

What is it?

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes when student report cards are handed out? How about those schedules kids receive in the mail right before school starts? You know the scene; parents furiously calling their friends and neighbors to see who got the best teacher.

Student Management Software or (SMS) is a program designed to help a school handle all the data of its students and teachers. Everything from grades, classes, teacher information, contact information, schedules, and health information are stored in a SMS program. In addition, most programs offer dynamic Web opportunities for parents and teachers to connect through blogs, online assignments, and online reporting. Let's take a look at different parts of this complex and necessary program.

Other SMS functions

New enrollments
Daily attendance
Student health information
Personnel information
State reporting
Daily bulletins

The office portal

Think about the logistics of running a school. The office portal of a SMS program will handle the following tasks:

Creating master and individual schedules
Can you imagine the difficulty that an individual or group would have trying to arrange hundreds of students into a schedule each year? The office portal of SMS first creates a master schedule; sorting what teacher instructs which subject in a certain classroom at a certain time. The administrators set all the individual parameters for each teacher and the program creates the master schedule. Once that is done, then the students are sorted into various classes, creating individual student schedules for the year.

Despite the fact that you may be convinced that teachers favor certain students, the truth is that scheduling these days is almost 100% automated. The administration sets the parameters, and the program does the sorting. Manual changes are made after the fact if a student was truly misplaced.

Report cards
Gone are the days when teachers hand write report cards. Now SMS allows teachers to record daily grades so when it comes time to hand out a quarterly report, the grade is automatically tallied. The teacher simply has to write in a comment.

The teacher portal

The teacher portal of SMS gives each instructor an easy and efficient way to manage the classroom. Available to teachers are the following functions:

Grade book
Here the teacher can keep track of grades (which links to main system) as well as a place to track all assignments, reports, and classroom activities.

Contact Information
Teachers can keep track of parent phone numbers, email addresses, and other important information like whether a child has a particular custody arrangement or allergy.

Attendance and student seating
Here, teachers can easily keep track of their student's attendance to send to the office each morning. Seating charts can also be made so if a substitute must take over the class, all the necessary information is available.

In addition, the teacher portal delivers daily bulletins and pertinent announcements, as well as notifications for other duties such as bus duty, lunch duty, or recess duty.

The parent/student portal

This part of the SMS program allows parents and students to log into the system and keep track of assignments and reports. It also gives students a connection to their teacher after hours, plus the option to select preferred classes for the following year.

The parent/student portal is accessed online where ever there is an Internet connection.

Other SMS functions

For private schools, SMS keeps careful track of all tuition costs and scholarship awards. It can also be used in the cafeteria to keep track of student lunch menus, financial aid, and the schedule and rotation of students, teachers, and cafe workers. Newer SMS programs give parents and teachers mobile access as well. Gone are the days when you had to call the school or write a letter. Everything is updated and in real-time.


My experience with Powerschool SMS by Pearson School Systems

During my college years, I worked for a small school district in the state of Connecticut. I was the technology assistant for the district, and my boss- the Technology Director, suddenly left his position during the summer we were scheduled to implement the new SMS program called Powerschool. Back then, it was owned by Apple, but now it is currently owned by Pearson school systems.

Needless to say, the principals of each school were nervous and stressed about the massive work involved with a district-wide implementation, led by no one! Since I was the assistant, I slowly started to research Powerschool. Little by little, I asked for permission to help with the implementation, and by mid-summer, I was in charge of the whole project!

This is a testament to Powerschool's intuitive interface that allowed a young college kid to figure out a complex database with no prior experience! Powerschool was the first of its kind to give the casual user the ability to handle incredibly complicated processes through a streamlined web experience. Much like all of Apple's products, Powerschool was designed with the same principles of simplicity and excellence.

Throughout the implementation process, I gained a newfound appreciation for the sheer amount of logistics that go into running a school and then a whole district. A constant flux of enrollment, teachers, state-mandated curriculums and reports- it is a giant project and responsibility. This is why schools are very careful when choosing a SMS to make sure it meets the needs of the district.

Powerschool App

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Notable SMS

A SMS is only as powerful as the users that use it. Most systems have fully integrated web interfaces that make it easy for people with various levels of technical ability. Here are a couple of student management systems you may want to take a closer look at:

Are you overwhelmed?

Don't worry. Most SMS programs come will technical support, an implementation team, and a training team as well. You will be provided with a staff member who comes to the district and helps train all the teachers and office staff on the new program, as well as the logistics of transferring all the data from another system. Once your SMS is in place, you will marvel at the ease of reporting, updating, and keeping a whole district running with the most up to date information.


About the author

Julie DeNeen is a freelance writer and mom to three beautiful children in Connecticut. She has a background in music, psychology, and technology.

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Parent portal / student information system for you to check out -

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Like Linda, I was also clueless about this technology, until I read your well-written, informative article. Thanks for shedding light on how different college, school, and many other areas of life are due to technology. I used to be a nursing professor and I can't imagine the differences I'd see if I went back today. Voted up, useful, and shared on Twitter. Take care, kelley

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      6 years ago from New York, New York

      As a teacher, I used PowerSchool and agree this software was extremely user friendly. I loved it because it really cut down of the job of inputting grades and even was great with comments too. Also, we used this program to take attendance daily for each class period. Thanks for this very informative hub on a very relevant topic for teachers and administrators. Have voted and shared too of course.

    • Julie DeNeen profile imageAUTHOR

      Blurter of Indiscretions 

      6 years ago from Clinton CT

      Thanks :)

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I'm totally clueless on this subject, but I enjoyed your hub. Very creative. I like how you added your author tidbit. I really like that idea!:)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I think programs like these SMS's you have informed us about will definitely be in full throttle with the world's schooling system within the next decade. From what I learned in my writing classes, we talked about how pen-and-paper writing may be considered "old school" writing as we enter an age filled with technological advances in education. Hence, I think we may learn more from online writing and education and the SMS's will definitely help us, as an educated/educating culture and world, to take control of our advances.

      Well done, yet again, Julie!

    • Julie DeNeen profile imageAUTHOR

      Blurter of Indiscretions 

      6 years ago from Clinton CT

      Thanks Josh!! :) lol

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania


      Very interesting and fascinating read! I had little to no knowledge of SMS coming into this read. High school for me was back in 2005, when I graduated, and I went to a small private school, LOL

      I really enjoyed reading this and learning about this technology; thanks for sharing Julie!

      P.S. the section you added at the end does look really good! Just thought you would want to know!


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