Texas School Districts Choose Skyward for Real-Time Student Progress Monitoring

2/7/2013 12:00:00 AM STEVENS POINT, Wis. – Feb. 7, 2013 – The Ranch Academy and the Weatherford and Crowley independent school districts (ISD) recently switched to Skyward Student Management System, citing the wide range of tools and student progress monitoring capabilities available in the software. More than 200 Texas school districts utilize the leading K-12 school administrative software company that became a Texas Education Agency’s preferred provider in 2011.

All three education institutions signed on this school year as customers of the Skyward Student Management System, which allows real-time monitoring of critical student data such as grades, scheduling and attendance, and facilitates school-to-home communication. The Crowley and Weatherford ISDs also utilize the Skyward School Business Suite, which provides integrated finance and human resource services such as managing annual budgets, employee pay, vacation, and more.

Recognizing its previous data management system had become burdensome, requiring too many resources and staff time to operate, Crowley Independent School District switched to Skyward in July and staff members haven’t looked back, according to Technology Director Jerry Allen.

“Skyward was above and beyond all others because it has so many features staff can customize to their own needs,” Allen said. “I’m a parent of a senior, and I love the Skyward Family Access online portal to stay up-to-date on my child’s grades and homework. That communication is invaluable.”

In his role as technology director, Allen said he has noticed that with so many Texas school districts switching to Skyward in recent years, his job of recruiting qualified staff has become so simple.

“The school districts that surround me all use Skyward,” he said, “so when hiring people – and we hire staff from each other all the time – I’m not having to re-train new staff when they are coming in, because they are already coming from a Skyward district.”

When Melissa Pardue was hired in 2009 as the Assistant Superintendent of The Ranch Academy, an open-enrollment public charter school for at-risk students in Canton and Tyler, it didn’t take long to discover her staff was disappointed with their current student management software. After becoming superintendent a year later, Pardue collaborated with staff to help find a new solution that could serve their unique student population needs and meet the flexible needs of her district.

“The Ranch Academy helps students from a variety of backgrounds – students with learning disabilities, at-risk students with behavioral and medical issues,” Pardue said. "Many of the components of Skyward were not applicable for my district. Skyward worked to prepare an individualized, affordable package for us and they have continued to customize our program throughout the implementation stages. They have absolutely been one of the most responsive and flexible vendors I have worked with."

Pardue said she plans on continuing to add various components of Skyward to her district in order to streamline her human resources, attendance, Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS), special education and financial data in a more comprehensive and customized program. Another significant feature for Pardue was the credit recovery capabilities within the Gradebook. She said the former software only allowed educators to update grades in the current six-week cycle, but the Ranch Academy needed more flexibility.

A Skyward School Business Suite customer since 2008, Weatherford Independent School District administrators were drawn to the Student Management Suite given the Texas contract with Skyward that guarantees one flat rate at all state school districts, said Chief Technology Officer Harry Jones.

“It’s the most-commonly used service by school districts our size in Texas, and it meets all the state reporting requirements,” Jones said. “The feedback from the teachers has been overwhelmingly positive, and they are happy with the switch. The Gradebook is one of the best features because it’s easy for them to use and it appears like it was designed by a teacher, and not by a programmer. Happy teachers make my job a whole lot easier.”

About Skyward
Skyward is a leading provider of K-12 school administrative software that surpasses districts’ needs in state reporting, improves operational capabilities, and opens communication between schools and families. Today, the Skyward School Management System™ is used in more than 1,500 school districts worldwide, ranging from districts with as few as 50 students to statewide implementations supporting more than 800,000 students. Founded in 1980, Skyward serves school districts with its integrated student, finance, and human resources suite of products and is proudly made and supported in the United States. To learn more, visit www.skyward.com.

Media Contacts
• Ray Ackerlund, Skyward, Inc., 800-236-7274 x1319, ray.ackerlund@skyward.com
• Kristen Plemon, C. Blohm & Associates, 608-216-7300 x18, kristen@cblohm.com

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