Despite some initial setbacks, the implementation of a new student information system at the Amphitheater School District has proceeded better than expected.
"We got it up and running thanks to the hard work of a lot of people," said Bob Wendel, an assistant principal and student advisor at Canyon Del Oro High School.
The district purchased Tyler Education Management Systems software in July 2008 for $340,000 with funds from a federal Enhancing Education Through Technology grant. The system manages student records including schedules, grades and attendance.
The district worked to implement the system for nearly a year. It went live July 1. Some student data was lost during the switchover.
"A lot of it is new because the old system didn't have all the data points that the new system does," said Todd Jaeger, Amphitheater's attorney and assistant to Superintendent Vicki Balentine.
Jaeger said part of implementing the new system involved re-enrolling all of the district's 15,000 students.
Lost data was mainly the result of the inconsistencies in filing systems used at the district's 21 schools. For example, similar courses have different names at various schools.
"We didn't get a chance to get our hands on it until registration started," Wendel said.
Tucson Unified School District experienced similar problems with its TEMS software in August 2008. When district students picked up their schedules before the start of school last year, many found they weren't in the classes for which they had signed up. Some teachers experienced similar schedule mix-ups, unsure of which classes they were scheduled to teach.
A few scheduling issues did surface at Amphitheater schools during the first few days of classes last week.
"Right now, we're doing attendance with paper and pencil," Wendel said last Thursday.
He anticipated the problem would be short-lived.
Administrators and some teachers have been trained on the new software system. TEMS is designed to handle all aspects of student information, including schedules, grades, attendance, disciplinary records and more.
After the system is fully implemented, parents will be able to use it to monitor their children's progress.
Unlike the former system, where a parent with children in more than one school would need multiple passwords to view their children's information, Jaeger said TEMS allows parents to access everything with one login.
"It's going to give parents more access to their child's data than they can possibly imagine," Jaeger said.
District officials plan to continue training teachers and administrators on the new system throughout the school year, and intend to have all aspects of TEMS fully operational by the end of 2009-10 term.