- Computers & Software
What is Student Management Software?
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
Student health information
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.
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:
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.
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.
A comprehensive list of SMS programs
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.
Was this article helpful for you?
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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