The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

August 29, 2013

ECPS launches new student information system

The Daily Southerner

TARBORO — Edgecombe County Public Schools (ECPS) started the new school year Monday with a new student information system — PowerSchool.

The district joined public schools statewide in the launch of the system, under the platform of Home Base. The system replaces NC Wise.

“It’s really going to change how we look at information management and we’re excited about the possibilities,” said Superintendent John Farrelly.

He said ECPS has not had trouble with the input of data, where some other LEA’s (school districts) have reported problems.

“From all checks, it was successful today, so I was pleased with that,” Farrelly said. “Teachers have the ability to set up their grades and we have the ability to set up student schedules. So far, so good.”

Disciplinary data is the next piece of information that will be set up through PowerSchool, said the superintendent. The new system will give teachers and administrators faster access to student information, such as attendance, grades and bus schedules. A “PowerTeacher” portal will give teachers access to a range of student information.

“Teachers have access to real-time student attendance,” said Farrelly. “They can print the report cards. They’ll be able to track student progress.”

Patricia Benbow, a member of ECPS’ technology team, in an interview prior to the launch of PowerSchool, said she believed the new system would save “a lot of time…in the classroom, because it’s going to be right at their (teachers’) fingertips.”

Starting in the second semester of the school year, parents will have access to their children’s grades, attendance and disciplinary data through a parent portal. Farrelly has created the expectation that teachers input student attendance on a regular basis and submit grades within five school days, much more often than the typical six or nine-week marking period. That will give parents updated school-related information on their children. Parents will also be able to track their children’s progress toward high-school graduation. Parents will have the ability to access the portal on their iPhones/ Androids.

“We’re going to have community meetings in the fall so that we can provide training opportunities for parents,” Farrelly said.

PowerSchool also offers a number of instructional resources through a vendor called Truenorthlogic, which will provide a platform for teachers’ evaluations.

“The instructional resources sound fantastic,” Farrelly said.

The launch of the multifaceted PowerSchool will be a two-to-three year rollout, said the superintendent, and he expects “challenges” along the way. But the end result will be a high-tech system with easier access to data.

The updated system is in line with ECPS’ vision: “Focused on Learning, Connected Through Technology and Ready for the Future.”