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Why You Need to “Think Different” About Your SIS

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February 9th, 2017

The state of student information systems (SIS) has changed significantly over the past decade.

Traditionally, the focus of a student information system was to ensure users can manage different aspects of student data like attendance and grades, and report that data back to the state. The main goal for most districts was compliance.

In recent trends, educators are shifting their focus to a broader perspective. They’re thinking about the student journey and the healthiness of the entire district. They want to be able to track factors that extend beyond academics, like social and emotional learning (SEL), culture and climate, and issues of equity.

At the same time, the federal government has transitioned from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to prepare all students for post-secondary success. In light of ESSA and other accountability measures, states are also being called to improve quality of instruction, close achievement gaps, and increase outcomes for all students.

ESSA includes specific provisions to improve outcomes for the disadvantaged and marginalized students, while requiring students to achieve standards and SEL skills that ensure they graduate college and career ready.

How will educators respond to these changes?

It’s important for district and site leaders to update current policies and technologies to reflect the shift in federal and state mandates. A crucial step state and districts have taken is developing communities of practice (CoP) that involve various stakeholders, including school councils, teachers, parents and community members to vet district and site improvement plans.

In terms of technology, it means implementing systems that are modernized and focused on comprehensive student growth. It’s no longer just about focusing on compliance, but leveraging key indicators to drive student success and wholeness.

What sort of features need to be reconsidered in the modern SIS? We’ve been able to identify seven major categories of function:

  • Focus
  • Data and information
  • Insights and feedback
  • Discipline
  • Student scheduling
  • Portal and users
  • System interface

Being able to transform how these categories function within a new system can make all the difference.

If you’d like to examine these features in detail, I suggest reading our latest white paper, Student Information Systems: Making the Move from Traditional to Modern. We examine each of these categories in greater detail and offer insight on how educators can help to shape student and classroom success.


Illuminate Education is a provider of educational technology and services offering innovative data, assessment and student information solutions. Serving K-12 schools, our cloud-based software and services currently assist more than 1,600 school districts in promoting student achievement and success.

Ready to discover your one-stop shop for your district’s educational needs? Let’s talk.

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