— With the Right Tools, Schools Can Enable Student Success
Student performance software provides educators with the tools to deliver holistic support for students. It automates processes and centralizes data that represents the whole student, not just academic needs. Not only does student performance software help students, but it improves work processes for teachers and administrators. This ultimately enhances learning experiences for students across entire districts. For one school in the San Francisco Bay Area, implementing performance software made all the difference. Service teams connected students to services 38 percent faster and reduced the time to complete manual requests from two hours to 15 minutes.
Despite the positive potential, the success of your performance software depends on the features it provides to help you address the unique needs of your school or district. There is a wide variety of performance software out there, and not all are created equal. As educators, it’s important to know the unique challenges of your students and the specific software features that could help you overcome them.
Types of Learning Assessments
Whatever student performance software you choose, your technology should support the two main types of evaluation: formative and summative.
Formative evaluation primarily measures performance during a learning term while summative evaluation measures performance after the learning term. This means that the first form evaluates student learning as it happens and the second evaluates more cumulative knowledge gains.
Both assessments are necessary to determine short-term and long-term student performance. If teachers need to see the more granular real-time performance, they may use formative assessments such as homework, weekly quizzes, or class discussions. These occur during the learning periods where students are actively developing skills or knowledge within a subject.
On the other hand, summative assessments test skills and knowledge after the period of initial development. Educators may use summative assessments like end-of-unit tests, final exams, or standardized tests to see cumulative student performance.
Assessments in Pandemic Conditions
Although both assessments are necessary for accurate measurement, formative assessments are often easier to implement. This is especially true in distanced learning conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic. Given the difficulties of distanced learning, formative assessments like homework are more readily available to educators.
There is more precedence for assigning independent work than there is for holding classroom tests in remote spaces. Student monitoring becomes more of an issue with independent, remote learning environments. As a result, summative assessments are more challenging to implement. However, student performance software can solve many of these problems.
Types of Student Performance Software
There are different types of student performance software:
- Student Information Systems (SIS)
- Learning Management Software (LMS)
Student Information Systems (SIS), also known as Student Management Systems (SMS), are often used in higher education. They provide administrative tracking for financial and academic information such as grades, enrollments, admissions, and attendance.
While SIS and SMS handle administrative tracking, Learning Management Software (LMS) primarily tracks academic data within the classroom. This is particularly used in primary and secondary education. Educators can use LMS to manage grades, curriculum, enrollments, and attendance.
Because SIS and LMS share similar features, some student performance platforms integrate this software together in higher education. For K-12, LMS tracks mostly classroom performance so that students can receive early intervention as they develop. Some LMS software even tracks social-emotional learning (SEL) data as part of these development metrics.
What Features Should You Look for in Student Performance Software?
Student performance software offers unique apps depending on the platform. Here’s a list of standard data metrics and features that they include:
- Schedules and Extracurriculars
- Student Background / Family History
- Student and Parent Portal
- SMS Parent/Teacher Communications
- Compliance Metrics
Student management software tracks all areas of student life that affect performance. This includes data such as family history and behavioral data.
Platforms often come as cloud-based applications, rather than downloadable ones. The cloud provides a digital workspace for users, which simplifies the process of managing data, providing universal access for all users, and integrating applications.
Integrations and Other Features
Integrations provide users with additional features for their original software. Instead of changing an entire digital workspace for another, users can simply integrate stand-alone apps or whole platforms to add on to their workspace. For example, if teachers or administrators implement student performance software that doesn’t include professional learning community (PLC) features, they may integrate a stand-alone app with that single feature.
Educational enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is a management platform often integrated with SIS or LMS systems. Businesses traditionally use ERP software, but the platform is also useful in education settings. The central purpose of ERP is to improve business processes by automating workflows and increasing productivity. In an enterprise context, an ERP may forecast operations expenses or logistics to help businesses better plan their processes. In education, ERPs are also known as school management systems because they provide comprehensive tools and data beyond the classroom. Since ERPs offer more managerial features, ERPs are designed for administrators to help them manage schools or entire districts, rather than individual classrooms. They handle back-office operations such as financials, human resources, IT, asset management, and the business of running an educational organization. Although ERPs are not considered student performance, their larger scale benefits still translate to the individual classroom.
Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM)
Like ERPs, CRMs are also traditional business and enterprise tools. CRMs are software platforms that help organizations manage various customer-facing operations such as customer service, marketing, and sales. Education CRMs similarly handle operations with student interactions, which is particularly helpful in higher education. With colleges, education CRMs allow students to receive direct help with enrollment and tuition processes or academic affairs. In K-12 school systems, CRMs often allow schools to enhance interactions with parents. They centralize student data, allowing parents to stay informed about their child’s performance and better communicate with teachers.
How Student Performance Software Makes a Difference
Professional Learning Community (PLCs)
Student performance data is also essential to PLCs and the development of new teaching strategies. PLCs are professional development resources that already exist outside of software. Schools establish PLCs to help teachers sharpen instruction and engagement skills while improving student learning. While each PLC structure varies from school to school or district to district, PLCs are designed to enhance student experiences by enhancing the teaching process. They typically involve district-wide teams of teachers who collaborate on the implementation of best practices. Incorporating PLC structures into student performance software could facilitate more collaboration and communication across teachers in various schools.