R.I. districts select SIS software

Follett Software Company announced this week that three more K-12 school districts in Rhode Island – which won $75 million in the federal Race to the Top competition last summer – have selected Aspen as their student information platform, raising the number of Aspen districts in the state to seven.

The three new districts are:

  • Warwick School District – 26 schools, 10,600 students
  • Coventry Public Schools – 10 schools, 5,041 students
  • Portsmouth School Department – 6 schools, 2,958 students

West Warwick, Little Compton, Barrington and Cumberland school districts previously selected the Aspen Student Information System, a web-based customizable platform for school and district administration, learning and communications that also delivers state reporting requirements.

According to Brad Lindaas, vice president of business operations for the Aspen product line, the catalyst for the seven districts to seek a more effective SIS is linked to the Rhode Island Department of Education’s (RIDE) ongoing strategic plan to transform education in the state and encourage each district to create a data-driven culture for education decision-making.

To that end, Lindaas said that a newly formed Rhode Island Aspen User Group held its first meeting Jan. 28 in Warwick, R.I. Heading the User Group is Rose Muller, whose Portsmouth district recognized the importance of adopting the Aspen SIS.

“Our district had the need for a user-friendly, flexible software to meet the enormous demand for data in our district, state and community,” said Muller, Portsmouth’s director of technology. “Most, if not all, of our decisions that we make are based on data analysis and Aspen will provide us with the capability to organize our operations so that data can be obtained, related and examined at every level. We are excited to explore the features in Aspen that support electronic workflow and will help our users.”

Last August, Rhode Island finished fifth in the federal Race to the Top competition, a grant program designed to reward states that embrace dramatic education reforms, and made available by the U.S. Department of Education as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

The Rhode Island public school system – which serves 145,000 students – has reported that the $75 million in grant funds will help pay for:

  • Support for a new system to track education data over multiple years
  • Development of a rigorous yearly educator-evaluation system linked to student growth
  • Information for teachers and families on student growth and achievement
  • Training for teachers on new world-class standards
  • Training for educators in the use of data to improve instruction
  • Development of a stronger induction and support program for new teachers and principals

Muller added that school districts in Rhode Island are working to support the initiatives of the Rhode Island Department of Education’s strategic plan, and that the new Aspen User Group is a reflection of how districts in the state continue to effectively collaborate with each other.

“These initiatives concentrate heavily on the use of data to support decision making and measure growth,” Muller observed. “Many realize we are in need of a robust system that meets local and state requirements, and some districts have chosen Aspen to meet those needs. The Aspen User Group will provide us with the forum to share ideas and practices, and help us to work smarter, not harder.”

In October 2010, Follett Software acquired X2 Development Corporation and its Aspen student information platform. X2 continues to operate out of Hingham, Mass., as a wholly owned subsidiary of Follett Software.