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SSD prepares Web student data tracking

September 22, 2012

By STEVEN NALLEY
educ@starkvilledailynews.com

The Starkville School District will launch its InformationNOW online student information system Monday, beginning a series of orientation sessions on each of its campuses for parents to retrieve their login information and learn about the INOW Parent Portal’s features and options.

The orientation sessions run from 5-7 p.m. each evening, with Starkville High School’s session on Monday, Sept. 24, Armstrong Middle School’s session on Tuesday, Sept. 25, sessions for both Henderson Intermediate School and Ward-Stewart Elementary School on Thursday, Sept. 27 and Sudduth Elementary School’s session on Monday, Oct. 1. Each school will have login information at its main office, where parents will receive directions to the computer lab.

Earlier in the month, SSD Superintendent Lewis Holloway said the INOW launch would be delayed due to data entry issues, but he said he anticipates no further delays. Holloway said the two primary issues were the number of students who moved to different addresses over the summer and the way the data was entered into the program. As an example of the latter, he said, several students living in a single home on Mount Olive Road might have had their address entered as “Mt. Olive Road,” “Mount Olive Rd.” or other variations.

“If there’s any difference in that address word, it won’t register all the siblings together,” Holloway said. “We sent home an address form to all of the parents across all of the schools.”

Using those forms, Holloway said, two data-entry technicians from each school corrected erroneous and faulty data in the INOW system to ensure parents obtained INOW access before report cards for the first nine weeks are released Oct. 11.

“They spent a week sequestered in the computer lab here entering that data and getting it correct,” Holloway said.

INOW is still a work in progress, Holloway said, because there are still other issues to correct. For instance, he said, high school students operate on a schedule with four subjects taught each day, but elementary school students operate with a seven-subject schedule, creating inconsistencies in INOW.

“The problem we’re looking at now is how to incorporate elementary schedules, but that’s not going to keep (INOW) Parent Portal from working,” Holloway said. “To make it fully operational, we’ve still got some items to clear up, but we’ve overcome the major hurdles.”
SSD Assistant Superintendent Toriano Holloway said INOW is an update from Software Technology, Inc.’s former student information system, offering parents online access to children’s grades, absences, discipline reports and more. The previous STI iteration will be discontinued, he said, and INOW is more user-friendly and accessible.
“All school districts this school year were supposed to convert to an internet-based student management system,” Toriano Holloway said.

“Parents (who) have multiple students in their school district ... will be able to view all their students from one screen. They’ll have access anywhere they have access to the Internet. They will get a pretty quick update on how their kids are doing every day.”

Toriano Holloway said INOW will also interface with programs the SSD uses to prepare students for state tests, including the new Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) evaluation. Through INOW, he said, parents will be able to see their children’s specific strengths and weaknesses as revealed by MAP, allowing them to work with their children at home to improve scores. Scores on the state tests themselves will still be picked up at the schools’ offices, he said.

Toriano Holloway said about 9-10 curriculum technology specialists will be available at each of the sessions to give parents one-on-one assistance on an as-needed basis.

“Parents will also receive a brochure with step-by-step information on how to access their students’ data,” Toriano Holloway said. “We will be in the computer labs at each school, so we’ll have Internet access for them there. We want to make it as convenient as possible for parents. If (parents) have kids at more than one school, they only have to come to one session. They don’t have to come to multiple sessions.”

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